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Young Actors Look to the Past

Aged 17, the horror and tragedy of the Holocaust occurred decades before acting student Will Hopwood was even born. But this drama student along with around 40 others in his year at the BOA Stage and Screen Production Academy, are discovering the heart wrenching stories of survivors from the holocaust, and bringing them to life on stage at The Old Rep, Birmingham.

Pages, Produced by BOA Stage and Screen Production Academy in collaboration with Voices of the Holocaust and the Association of Jewish Refugees runs from 27 - 28 Jan at The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham. Their hope is to raise awareness of these dreadful events and ensure the words and testimonies of those survivors live on.

In his second year at BOA an earlier production that budding actor, Will, was part of, was a celebration of the opening of the Commonwealth Games. “We created a really colourful, joyful street party kind of atmosphere, at the University of Warwick, the NEC and the University of Birmingham,” said Will. “So, this production about the Holocaust, was, I think, a challenge for everyone. Obviously, it was a very difficult subject to talk about and even more difficult to act out. But everyone has been dealing with these heavy topics really well.

“Our teacher, Miss Wright, wanted to do something that centred around raising awareness and teaching people about the Holocaust. She has been in touch with Voices of the Holocaust, and we went along to the Old Rep to see their production – ‘Kindness’. From here, came the idea of creating a verbatim performance, dotting stories throughout the production with the main thread being the testimony of Czechoslovakian survivor Irene Safran, a 21-year-old woman who was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau with her family in 1944.”

Selecting text for Pages, has meant a great deal of research into the testimonies of holocaust survivors, and it’s been the task of the students to select poignant extracts that they could bring movement and action to on the stage. Additionally, there will be a screen behind with people telling their stories.

“It is about exploring,” added Will. “Researching these testimonies has been quite eye opening in some parts, and some of the stories are very emotional and really do touch you. How our teacher has ensured that we coped with these harrowing stories is for us to have our rehearsal room as a separate room, and when we come out of there at the end of the day, we close the door and leave it behind. We don’t bring the horror and sadness out with us.

“I’m definitely optimistic about how the production will go. I think we’ve created something very impactful in parts. It’s really all about raising awareness of the holocaust, creating something people will learn from. And while we will have a lot of knowledgeable people in the audience, I hope we will be educating a few as to what happened.”

Pages runs from 27 - 28 Jan at The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham.


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