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Harlequin in the Ghetto

A performance exploring the commedia dell’arte script of Zdeněk Jelínek written in the ghetto at Theresienstadt, Alexander performed the role of Harlequin in the adaptation, with a group from York St John University, and took an active part in its re-imagining of the script and construction of the set.

In the World War Two Jewish ghetto at Theresienstadt, a young prisoner named Zdeněk Jelínek wrote a play in the commedia dell'arte style about a question of urgent interest to them all: would Harlequin, the lovable clown, escape the clutches of the Capitano? Jelínek perished in the Holocaust and his script, titled Comedy about a Trap, was thought lost until recently, when Dr Lisa Peschel located a copy saved by a survivor and preserved in the archives of a Czech theatre company. Now two groups one at York St John University and the other at the University of York, have developed new, devised performances inspired by the preserved script. The performances will explore the political commitment of the young author, the environment of the ghetto, and a question for our own day: what are we to make of a comedy written during the Holocaust?

Performers: Alex Kaniewski, Imogen Sutherland, Laura Castle, Jack lay-flurrie, Geneva Rust-Orta, David Richmond.


Stage management: Bobbie Parrish


Lighting: Simon Bedwell, Tom Gardner   

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