How can theatre bear testimony to the annihilation of a people?

Holocaust Memorial Day 27th January 2022

Pascal Theatre Company has produced plays sourced by living testimony to commemorate a vibrant culture, language and history that was mostly destroyed in the Shoah.

Our refusal to remain silent has constructed a legacy of testimony from survivors and their children.

IRENA WALKS from Woman in the Moon by Julia Pascal

IRENA

I have to get out into the air. 

Walk. Spazieren.  Maszerovac.

I walk. You walk. He walks. There is someone walking behind me

He walks. Who is he? Does he recognise me? From the Warsaw days? When there was no ghetto. Perhaps his sister had a dress made in my shop? 

He’s not so close now. I walk. Silence. A car. Slow. Coming closer. My heart will smash. Look ahead. Don’t turn round. It’s coming close. He is singing with the window wound down. 

(Hatikvah is sung)

From my youth. Hatikvah. Hope.

Only a Jew would sing that. A Jew would know that. Only a Jew would turn around. I walk. I walk. I walk. I don’t turn round. 

Jewish scum. Out to catch a Jew for his Nazi paymasters.

He’s getting closer the filthy Jewcatcher. Turn now and I will be a pillar of ash. He is next to me . Singing softly.

(Hatikvah is sung)

I walk. I walk. I walk. The song means nothing to me. I hear nothing.

I am an Aryan. How many did he catch today? Hope!

 How much longer must I walk and my feet are dead? I want to sit in a warm cafe and drink something hot. I want to sit in a restaurant wearing a fur coat not trawl in worker’s clothes like a kitchen maid. I walk. I walk. He walks. Again. That man is following. The first one from before ‘Hope’!

I walk. He walks. I stop. He stops. He knows me! My face hasn’t changed even after all I have seen.

I walk and if I run, he is stronger, he will catch me. ‘Jew!’ he will yell like so many I have seen suddenly screaming Jew in the street. ‘Jew!’ he’ll yell and I will freeze like a rabbit. 

What will happen to my baby? Who will care for her if he yells Jew.

I walk. I stop. I turn. The man is looking at me. I look. He looks. He looks down. I look down. In his hand there is something red. Something strange and stiff. I want to laugh. I want to empty my lungs and laugh with relief. Is that all! Thank God.

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How can theatre bear testimony to the annihilation of a people?