Florida School of the Arts reported to Historic City News that they will present Diane Samuels’ “Kindertransport” September 24 – 26 at 7:30 p.m. and September 27 at 2:30 p.m. on the FloArts Main Stage Theatre of the St. Johns River Community College Palatka campus. Admission is $5.
The play begins with one woman’s journey during the real-life transporting of 10,000 Jewish children away from the dangers of Nazi Germany. Patrons will experience the heartbreaking story of Evelyn, the now grown British woman, and Eva, the 11-year-old Jewish child she used to be.
Hidden among the usual attic clutter is evidence of Evelyn’s painful past she now must relive due to her daughter’s persistence in seeking her own identity. Before their plunder through the attic, Faith knew nothing of her mother’s past or her own heritage and insists upon knowing the truth. Evelyn grudgingly tells her daughter of her past, and how she fled her country to begin a safer life in England.
FloArts professor and play director Ed Kelly said the play is an outstanding script and a history lesson to be sure. “It’s a perfect blend of artistry and history,” he said. “To make all the various locations of her past apparent, the attic ceiling doubles as a screen to reflect Evelyn’s memories. The images and sound effects help define where we are in the story.”
“The artistic challenges lie in playing games with the tenses and with perfecting the German and English accents,” Kelly added. “It’s an excellent acting lesson, an excellent design lesson and an excellent history lesson for us all.”
Scenic and lighting design instructor Robert O’Leary said he needed to create a world that represents one real place for the main character and several surreal places for self-terrifying her mind. “Audience members will see all the trappings of a natural attic, with personal memorabilia of a lifetime stashed away in the pitch-darkness of an often forgotten part of a house,” O’Leary said. “The play, of course, doesn’t end there, and so neither did the design.”
The added elements of light and projection gave the design team the ability to reshape the space. “We did this in order to make it sweet or terrifying, as moments in the play call for more surrealistic environments, bringing us from worlds of storybooks to Nazi Germany,” O’Leary said.
The cast list includes Alix Daugherty as Lil, Mandi Connor as Evelyn, Ashley Schoendorf as Faith, Marissa Toogood as Eva, Rachel Knowles as Helga, Andy Deveroux as Ratcatcher, Logan Wolfe as the border official, Zach Flax as the organizer, Kyle Riggs as the station guard, and James Smith as the postman
The production staff includes Robert O’Leary, set design; Romen Phelps and Jordan Vera Corporation, lighting; Alex Hernandez, sound; Mark Exline, properties master; Devin Satabe, carpenter; Bryan Sellers, master electrician/light board operator; Rebecca Hamilton, projectionist/screen charge; Jessica Snyder, paint charge; and Thaddeus Engle, scene shop manager. Additional carpenters/electricians: Romen Phelps, Jordan Vera, Mark Exline, Jessica Snyder, Bryan Sellers, Rebecca Hamilton, Devin Satabe and Ashley Palmer.
The costumes were researched and designed by Arlene Felipe. Felipe said that while gaining more insight into the context of the story, much of the visual research was found in black and white photos. “To bring the story to life on stage, a varied color palette is presented in order to work with the color choices in the set and make the characters’ moments more vivid,” Felipe said. “Interesting style lines are recalled as the play occurs in the 1940s and the 1980s; these similar garment silhouettes provide an interesting symmetry that somehow bridges and spans the course of many years. This concept is especially applied in the character of Lil, who plays in both the past and present times.”
Felipe added that while generally staying true to period and location, the experience of the story involves the use of color and style lines to reflect each player’s development and character.
“It is important to honor the general look and the experiences of the children who experienced the real Kindertransport,” Felipe said. “This concept is accomplished in the costume choices for Eva. In the beginning of the play, rich and solid colors are used on a more open silhouette. As Eva adjusts to her new life in England and grows into a woman, she fights against the memories of her past. Her color palette lightens to English pastels, the garment’s silhouette moves closer to the body and appears to close off at the neckline.”
Florida School of the Arts is Florida’s first state-supported professional arts school to serve the entire state of Florida and SJRCC awards a two-year associate degree in Arts.
FloArts is located on the SJRCC Palatka campus. For more information, call 386-312-4300 or visit the Web site at www.floarts.org.