Spring play tackles child’s view of World War II
1940, Prague Czech Republic. Thousands of children are creating art with minuscule stubs of pastels and charcoal in secret, in an effort to bring to light the horrors of the Nazis regime.
The Douglas High School spring play “And a Child Shall Lead” will depict the courage, turmoil and tenacity of a few of the children who lived and survived Terezin through their art, poetry and music.
Students have been working on sets and scenery, costuming and makeup, sound, lighting, properties, marketing and dramaturg to recreate the barracks where the children of “the Jewish City” lived.
“I am looking at this play much more seriously,” Stage Manager Justin Hubbard said. “This is a much more serious play and I am treating it that way.”
The spring production will be Justin’s last.
Keeping his crews organized and focused are keys to making his last play a success, Justin said.
“I have been much more organized with everything in connection with this play than any other,” he said. “I plan on it being amazing. Good isn’t enough for me. I have very high expectations, because it is based on a true story and I want everyone to feel that.”
Members of the various crews are focused on creating the ominous, dark feeling of the time period.
Everything down to the sound of the trains bringing the families to the holding camp are being considered by the head of the sound crew Lindsey Thew.
“I want to make the play sound as realistic as possible,” the freshman said. “Making the sounds more realistic help bring out more emotional appeals. We are working very closely with the director to get the same image both on stage and with our sounds. We are even using actual music that was created by prisoners at Terezin.”
Fellow freshman Maya Wolery has used her time as a member of the costume crew to help create characterization.
“I love having to create costumes that fit into the time period and really try to stick with that,” she said. “We have done so much research down to whether the character came from a rich city or not. Also, being able to be a member of the cast and being able to pick out my costume based on who I feel my character is, is an opportunity I will probably never have anywhere else.”
The costumes will portray not only what kind of life the characters were stripped from because of the circumstances, but also the light the children brought to Terezin Maya said.
“All of our costumes had to fit in with the theme of light in the darkness,” she said. “The kids had to have brighter colored clothing even though the entire play is a dark and depressing setting.”
Challenged with creating the cold, crowded barracks where families were crammed in, the set crew faced difficulties all their own.
“We have spent a lot of time reading the script and visualizing how we want to see it,” freshman Alex Laurie said. “Seeing the set come to life with how we see it in our heads is really cool.”
Creating the look of cement posed a problem, the techniques found on the Internet and in various books were not turning out as planned.
Problem solving has been a key element to all of the crews including the dramaturg, or research team and marketing.
“Finding some of the specific information like what the kids made their puppets out of that we’re using in the play has been tough,” junior Dylan Goldstein said. “It has also been fun because cast members or set design will come to us and ask for a specific aspect of that time like the weather and we will have to go find it.”
For marketing crew member Willard Franklin, finding a way to intrigue people to come see the more dramatic play has been a struggle.
“I have never done anything related to marketing,” the sophomore said. “Trying to make all of our posters and fliers not so blunt had been hard. We want to make it so that people know what they can expect when they come see it, but still be surprised. We wanted to keep everything interesting.”
It has been a few years since the drama classes delved into a more serious play, teacher Amy Sando said.
“And a Child Shall Lead” has been an opportunity for the students of her sixth- and third-periods to create a vested interest.
“I wanted to do something in depth so that they could work on developing their characters,” Sando said. “We started do the research of Terezin and what these children went through and their buy-in to the characters and the idea just grew. They are playing real children and real teenagers. They are not playing adults. I love that this is based on real people because they have become moved by what they have learned and you really see if coming out in the characters.”
The play will show April 8 and 9 and potentially a second weekend.
Sando hopes the community comes out to support the students’ efforts within a much more serious play.
“This is one of the most moving plays we’ve ever done here,” Sando said. “The playwright wanted this to represent all of the children who have died in conflict. There were only 132 survivors of the 15,000 children that saw Terezin. I hope the community can support this play.”