Friday, April 29, 2016

Days of Remembrance




On May 6th, Hawkes Library will take part in the nationwide effort to honor the victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution by hosting a Days of Remembrance performance at First United Methodist Church’s Zachry Center at 7pm EDT.  The one-act version of I Never Saw Another Butterfly by Celeste Raspanti will be performed by members of the Lafayette Theatre Academy, following a performance for the Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.
After the successful production of the full-version of the play at the Lafayette Society for Performing Arts in LaGrange this January, director Amy McDow was contacted by a Breman representative inviting the cast to provide a program for the museum.  McDow shares that, “after that first conversation, I was flooded with emotions.  Although we have continuously seen positive effects of our production locally, I never imagined that we would so strongly touch a community that has been, and still is, directly impacted by the events we portrayed.”
I Never Saw Another Butterfly shares the story of how children, held in the TerezĂ­n Concentration Camp, used art to inspire, entertain, comfort, and strengthen themselves and each other.  After liberation, pieces of the children’s artwork, poetry, and prose were found and used as the source for the material in the play.  McDow states, “it is such an honor to continue sharing the legacy left by these children with those whose lives are dedicated to preserving Jewish values, culture, and history.”
On their first visit to the Breman Museum, the academy students located many exhibits that directly related to the events in the play, including finding the names of some of the children whose art and writing they had studied during their production.  Phoebe Rushan, playing the role of Raya Englanderova in the production, states that “being in this show has really opened my eyes to the struggles that these kids went through during the Holocaust.  You always learn about it in school, but being able to read poems and look at pictures, that these children created, really opens your eyes.  It’s beautiful how expressing themselves through art helped them during these horrible times.  This show has been a really educational, but fun experience.”
Cast member Liberty Imes remarks, “I am extremely honored to be a part of a production like this one, with kids coming together to make something so beautiful and respectful.  I’ll never forget it.” The cast traveling to Atlanta includes 13 students, in the sixth through twelfth grades, from Troup, Harris, and Chambers counties.
The cast performs in Atlanta on Yom HaShoah, which is also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day and marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.  It commemorates the lives and heroism of the people who died in the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945 and pays tribute to the rescuers who risked their lives to save others.  This year, the date of Yom HaShoah is May 5th.
Liam McDonald, cast in the role of Honza, shares, “being a part of I Never Saw Another Butterfly has been an amazing and eye-opening time for me.  It’s a very powerful play and I have learned a lot from it.  I’m looking forward to performing at the Breman Museum, as it is going to be a once in a lifetime experience.”
On May 6th, the cast will repeat the performance for West Point and surrounding communities at the Zachry Center.  When asked about Hawkes Library’s involvement in this local event, Michael Markle, a member of the Hawkes Library board, stated that “the Holocaust was one of the greatest atrocities of recent history.  It impacted our own country and family members, whether they were personal relatives or those who fought to end the persecution.  The Friends of Hawkes Library is honored to have the opportunity to sponsor this production as a remembrance of those who suffered and a reminder that such atrocities still occur today and should not be tolerated.”
The event coincides with the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust established by Congress and led by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.  Information about the Holocaust and the children of TerezĂ­n will be on display at Hawkes library during the Days of Remembrance.  Handmade butterflies, created by the students will also decorate the library.
“It’s not enough to curse the darkness of the past. We have to illuminate the future,” explains Holocaust survivor Estelle Laughlin. “On Days of Remembrance the most important thing to remember is the humanity that is in all of us to leave the world better for our children and for posterity."  Hawkes Library’s Days of Remembrance is free to the general public. 

The performance begins at 7pm at the Zachry Center in West Point.  For more information, please visit www.hawkeslibrary.com or contact Amy McDow at amcdow@lsparts.org.

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