Northumbria Uni lecturer's Holocaust play for set for House of Commons

A ONE-WOMAN play adapted and acted by a Northumbria University lecturer is to be performed at the House of Commons.

A ONE-WOMAN play adapted and acted by a Northumbria University lecturer is to be performed at the House of Commons.

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Jane Arnfield will perform The Tin Ring, which was created from the memoirs of Zdenka Fantlova, to an audience of MPs and Lords on January 28.

The play tells the story of Czech-Jewish woman Zdenka who fell in love at the age of 18 but whose life was changed forever when her country was invaded by the Nazis.

While in the ghetto of Terezin, her soulmate, Arno, gave her a ring made from tin as a token of his love.

Sadly, Arno did not survive the horrors of the extermination camps but Zdenka, who is now in her 90s, is committed to ensuring younger generations never forget the Holocaust. Jane, who is a lecturer and researcher in performing arts at Northumbria University, said: “When I read Zdenka’s memoirs I knew instinctively that her words would resonate to make an extraordinary performance.

“The essence of the performance is to allow a single voice to acknowledge the silent, speak for the speechless and never forget.”

Elements of the play are also being used as a creative and active learning programme – called Suitcase of Survival – to encourage young people to explore the issue of resilience.

A pilot project was established with 10 and 11-year-olds from Hotspur Primary School in Newcastle, which saw three Northumbria students leading workshops alongside Durham-based art educational charity The Forge.

Executive director at The Forge, Tony Harrington, said: “The loss of life was so great during the Holocaust that it can be difficult for youngsters to really understand.

“However, The Tin Ring humanises and personalises the dreadful events of the Second World War so that children can relate to it.

“The educational programme looks at what makes people resilient and how building personal resilience can help individual development.

“We use art and drama to give young people an opportunity to reflect on their own lives, explore their own decision-making and develop themselves as strong-minded citizens.”

Jane added: “In the same way as Zdenka has to draw on skills to survive a catastrophic event, we’ve found the programme helps children to assess their own coping strategies regarding issues that affect them in their own lives.

“In her talk at the school, Zdenka told pupils that, although her situation was one of extremes and one that she hopes no human being should ever have to go through again, she understands young people do have issues that are challenging and that need to be dealt with.

“Zdenka’s story seems to help and res- onates deeply with people of all ages.”

It is hoped Suitcase of Survival will be rolled out to other schools with a view to including it in the curriculum.

It can also be tailored for other organisations. One organisation – Freedom from Torture – has already said it is keen to use it for its clients.

The Tin Ring will be performed to an audience of Lords and MPs at The Speaker’s House, at the invitation of Lord Shipley, former leader of Newcastle City Council, as part of a series of events to remember the Holocaust.

 

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