Kindertransport logoKindertransport
by Diane Samuels

March 24 - April 15, 2000
Directed by Hal Kohlman

As the Nazi Party rose to power in Germany in the 1930's, Jews were systematically deprived of all basic human rights. Their German citizenship was revoked. They were prohibited from activities as simple as driving, and from attending public entertainments. And in 1938, thousands of Jewish businesses and homes were destroyed in the maelstrom of Kristallnacht.


When the first 30,000 Jews were detained and placed in concentration camps, the Movement for the Care of Children from Germany was formed in England. The rescue operation known as "Kindertransport," would see nearly ten thousand unaccompanied Jewish children travel from Germany to England where they would settle into English families that wanted to help. Of course, most never saw their homeland or their parents again. It is estimated that some 2,500 Kinder eventually immigrated to North America.

Eva and Helga packing   Evelyn

Ms. Samuels sets most of her story in an attic storeroom of a suburban London home in 1979 with a few scenes set in Germany in 1939. Past and present are intertwined throughout the play, which has three sets of mothers and daughters. The play opens with Eva, a young German Jewish girl and her mother packing for the girl's escape to England. 

FaithAlmost immediately, the action moves to 1979 where a young Englishwoman, Faith, has decided to leave home, and her stiff reserved mother Evelyn and grandmother are helping her pack. As the play shifts subtly between past and present, we see the young Jewish girl grow up and assimilate into British culture, and we see Faith discover family secrets, and then confront her mother and grandmother.The plot explores such themes as mother-daughter relationships, survivor guilt, and loss of identity.

Eva and the RatcatcherA very theatrical spark in the naturalistic drama is the playwright's skillful use of a children's fairy tale character, "The Ratcatcher," which is a German variation of the Pied Piper. The mythical Ratcatcher becomes various authority figures, such as a Nazi border official, a train station guard, and an English postman.

Diane Samuels, an Englishwoman, interviewed a number of the Kinder as part of her research for the play. She writes: "They were all very open about their lives and feelings. Many of their actual experiences are woven into the fabric of the play. Although Eva/Evelyn and her life are fictional, most of what happens to her did happen to someone somewhere." She dedicates the play to the Jewish Kinder who caught the trains in 1938-39.

Evelyn and Helga

Director's Note:
"Never again," has been the rallying cry of Holocaust survivors, but the Kindertransport repeats more often than most would wish. In October of 1961, for instance, the Catholic Church arranged to airlift 14,000 Cuban children to Miami in order to avoid religious persecution under Castro. While political and social circumstances are vastly different between these two events, one thing remains constant - parents that willingly deliver their children to the care of strangers with no hope of reunification. When I first read this play, I knew that it was not so much about the Holocaust as about parents and children, the long journey they take together and apart, and the deeper meanings of heritage and what is passed on.

To learn more, visit the Kindertransport Association web site.





The Ratcatcher

Eva Elisa Solomon
Helga Merrisue Seitsinger
Evelyn Lin Hartgrove
Faith Kate O'Meara
Lil Angie Duke
Ratcatcher Eric Jensen
Director Hal Kohlman
Stage Manager &
Light Board Operator
Bob Bates
Asst. Stage Mgr. Stacia Robal
Lighting Designer Gilbert Guerrero
Costume Designer Pamela Kosted
Costume Assistant Christina Foster
Sound Designer Joe Daleo
Running Crew Susan Carron
George Tilson
Sound Board Operator Kimberly Moore

Produced by special arrangement with Susan Schulman, A Literary Agency
454 W. 44th Street, NY, NY 10036

Kindertransport was first performed by the Soho Theatre Company at the Cockpit Theatre, London on 13 April 1993 and premiered in the US at the Manhattan Theatre Club, New York on 26 April 1994. Both productions were directed by Abigail Morris.

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