A trio of productions to mark the horrors of the Holocaust

Helen Lewis, who will be commemorated with a blue plaque in Crescent Arts Centre
Helen Lewis, who will be commemorated with a blue plaque in Crescent Arts Centre

The Lyric Theatre in Belfast will be remembering the Holocaust with three productions this season: a free event today on Holocaust Memorial Day How Can Life Go On, Helen Lewis’s memoir A Time To Speak to mark the centenary of her birth in Czechoslovakia, and Nivelli’s War, based on the moving true story of a Holocaust survivor.

Director Paul Bosco McEneaney, who instigated the forthcoming production of Nivelli’s War, is meeting the Holocaust survivor Werner Reich in New York today.

Paul explains the background to the meeting: “A few months back I received an email from Werner Reich - I nearly fell off my seat. Why? In 2011 when I commissioned Charles Way to write a piece about Herbert Levin (aka The Great Nivelli). Levin was born in Germany and during the 30s had escaped to Prague where he opened a magic shop.

‘‘With the invasion he lost everything and was sent to Auschwitz and later Birkenau. The Nazis found out that he was a magician, supplied him with cards and in return for his life he performed for them and taught them tricks. During our research I stumbled upon an article in an old magic magazine about Herbert Levin and how he inspired a fellow prisoner in Birkenau. His name was Werner Reich. They both survived thanks to Magic - their families didn’t. ‘Niveilli’s War’ was inspired by this story.”

A heart-warming story in its own right, the experience has now been expanded and transformed into an inspirational piece of theatre by two gifted professionals who understand instinctively how to capture, hold and ignite youthful imaginations. ‘Nivelli’s War’, which runs in the Lyric in March before transferring to Broadway, is a family drama set at the end of World War II. It is told through a blend of theatre, magic, illusion and original music. Ernst, a young evacuee from Frankfurt, is all alone and far away from home when he meets and befriends the mysterious Mr. H, a stranger with a trick or two up his sleeve. Together, they set off down a road fraught with danger, hunger and uncertainty to find Ernst’s family in this dramatic story of an incredible journey and an unlikely friendship.

Information on all three productions can be found at www.lyrictheatre.co.uk, Box Office 028 9038 1081.

How Can Life Go On?

27 January at 6pm, admission free

This is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2017. The aftermath of the Holocaust and of subsequent genocides continues to raise challenging questions for individuals, communities and nations. HMD 2017 asks audiences to think about what happens after genocide and of our own responsibilities in the wake of such a crime. This year’s theme is broad and open ended, there are few known answers.

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, Philip Crawford will direct a rehearsed reading of ‘Mirad, A Boy From Bosnia’ by Ad De Bont. Set in the Bosnian civil war, this play tells the story of a 13 year old boy’s survival, despite the loss of his parents: one dead, the other missing. This is a free event so please join us in commemorating those who survived, and also those who lost their lives in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. HMD 2017 asks audiences to think about what happens after genocide and of our own responsibilities in the wake of such a crime; ‘How Can Life Go On?’

A Time To Speak

Produced by Two-for-One Productions

Adapted by Sam McCready from the Holocaust memoir by Helen Lewis

3 - 7 May

Tickets £12 - £15Tickets

£12.00- £15.00

Helen Lewis, dancer and choreographer needs little introduction to Ulster audiences. After the publication of her memoir A Time to Speak, which has become a classic of Holocaust literature, she visited schools, clubs and organisations throughout the Province, sharing her remarkable story of courage and survival in the Nazi Concentration Camps.

Sam McCready commented “Joan McCready and I enjoyed a close friendship with Helen, principally through the Lyric Theatre, where we worked together on many productions. With the publication of her memoir, she had a number of requests to adapt the book for the stage. She turned them down. One day I asked her if I might adapt the book. “Yes, on one condition.” she said. “Joan McCready must play the part.” With this award-winning production, which is being performed to mark the centenary of Helen’s birth in Czechoslovakia, her wish has been realised.”

Nivelli’s War Cahoots NI in association with the Lyric Theatre

Starring Dan Gordon

Written by Charles Way

Directed by Paul Bosco McEneaney with music by Garth McConaghie

2 - 19 Mar Tickets £13- £15 Age Suitability: 7+ Duration: 65 minutes

Nivelli’s War will transfer from the Lyric to a two week run (28 April – 11 May) in the New Victory Theater on Broadway, 42nd Street in the iconic Times Square.