The author's guide to Kindertransport , an invaluable and uniquely authoritative resource for anyone studying, teaching or performing the play. The play tells the story of how nine-year-old Eva, a German Jewish girl, is sent by her parents on the Kindertransport to start a new life with a foster family in Britain just before the outbreak of World War Two. Over forty years later, she has changed her name to Evelyn and denied her roots. When her own daughter discovers some old letters and photos in the attic, she is forced to confront the truth about who she really is and to reveal a dark secret that she has done everything to keep hidden. She explores the creative process that shaped the play through successive drafts. It's a refreshing change for a study guide to come from the pen of the person who created the text being studied
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Between and the outbreak of the Second World War, almost 10, children, most of them Jewish, were sent by their parents from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria to safety in Britain.
In my play nine-year old Eva based on the actual experiences of a number of children and developed as a single fictional character comes to Manchester where she is looked after by Lil. In the play, Evelyn, now in her fifties, is confronted by her own daughter, Faith, when she finds some photos and comments from that time hidden in the attic. What inspired you to base a play around those whose lives were impacted by the Kindertransport?
The first was a discussion with a close friend, in her late twenties and born into a comfortable, secure home, who described her struggle to deal with the guilt of survival. Until that moment he had had no idea that his mother had been in a concentration camp. The third was the ashamed admission by a fifty-five year old woman on a television documentary about the Kindertransport, that the feeling she felt most strongly towards her dead parents was rage at their abandonment of her, even though that abandonment had saved her life.
In , I was a young mother with a one-year old son and pregnant with my second child when I saw this TV documentary. I was struck at once by the ways in which parents and children struggled to deal with this desperate parting.
Artists are often drawn to the extremes of human experience in order to reflect also upon what is ordinary. I was compelled to get to the heart of the unresolvable dilemma. To be a parent is to live with this hidden contradiction. I wanted to try to face it. We understand that you were brought up in a tight-knit Jewish community did you feel a connection to the story?
I grew up in a tight-knit Jewish community in Liverpool in the s and 70s. I was taught Jewish history and the Holocaust was given due attention. Yet there was no word about the Kindertransport. The reasons for this connect with the inner life of the Kinder themselves.
Many simply chose not to discuss or raise the matter of where they had come from and how. When the anniversary came around, the youngest Kinder, who had travelled across Europe and the North Sea as babies thrust into the arms of older children, were in their fifties, whilst the teenage refugees were in their sixties. Late middle age is a time when life catches up with a person. Do you think this is a story that still feels timely today in a society where many are feeling displaced?
Can we draw any parallels but to the current immigration crisis? People are always being displaced, moving about the planet, leaving home. Violent displacement has long-term effects as well as short term challenges. The play gives audiences a chance to reflect on the long-term, deeply emotional and psychological effects when the news is focused on the acute challenges of survival. The question those who have homes can ask are about how, like Lil, help can be offered. Yet some can. Many Kinder, now very elderly, have been instrumental in pressing the British government to allow child refugees to come into Britain.
The core theme of the play is Separation — of child from mother. Every human being experiences this primal loss at birth and in different ways as they grow up. It happens to us all. Also, my focus when writing the play was to probe the inner life where memory is shaped by trauma, history meets story, in order to gain psychological and emotional insight into how a damaged psyche can survive, possibly recover, and whether there might ever be an opportunity to thrive.
This journey within is what Kindertransport also offers each member of the audience if they allow themselves to go where it ventures, no matter where or when they live. The play itself is a commentary on many things outside of the story of the Kindertransport, can you tell us a little about these themes and how the play comes to explore them?
See above — separation. Mother-daughter relationships. How trauma impacts on people and fear is carried on into every experience, giving an inability to feel safe. How to feel safe? How to heal? I hope that telling the story can be part of this healing for people individually and as a collective. Wonderful to see Suzan again and see how the play touches the lives of those who work on it beyond the stage, into life as well.
This production of Kindertransport uses both German and English actors does this add a new dynamic to the play on stage for you? An inspired idea to make this a British-European co-production. How many productions of Kinderstransport have you seen?
Is there anything that makes this new production stand out to you? Too many to count. Most interesting. For the past few years and ongoing, music is playing a greater and greater role. Writing juicy, substantial roles for women of all ages to speak and sing. Asking universal questions through deeply personal stories — epic-intimate drama that is multi-dimensional.
You can Update Your Preferences or Unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of any email we send you. Playwright and author Diane Samuels spoke of her play Kindertransport and the real- life events that inspired it. Kindertransport playwright — Diane Samuels Can you tell us a little about the Kindertransport story? What is next for Diane Samuels? Share via. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
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Diane Samuels' Kindertransport
Brutally separated from her German Jewish parents at the age of nine, Eva is brought to England with the promise of a new life Between until the outbreak of World War II, nearly 10, Jewish children were taken from their families in Nazi-occupied Germany and sent to live with foster families in Britain. Diane Samuels' seminal play, Kindertransport , imagines the fate of one such child. Now widely considered a modern classic, Kindertransport has been read and studied the world over. It also won the Meyer-Whitworth Award in Since its premiere the play has been revived several times. Watford Palace Theatre staged it in , in a production that transferred to the West End.
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INTERVIEW: Playwright Diane Samuels talks about Kindertransport
Between and the outbreak of the Second World War, almost 10, children, most of them Jewish, were sent by their parents from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria to safety in Britain. In my play nine-year old Eva based on the actual experiences of a number of children and developed as a single fictional character comes to Manchester where she is looked after by Lil. In the play, Evelyn, now in her fifties, is confronted by her own daughter, Faith, when she finds some photos and comments from that time hidden in the attic. What inspired you to base a play around those whose lives were impacted by the Kindertransport? The first was a discussion with a close friend, in her late twenties and born into a comfortable, secure home, who described her struggle to deal with the guilt of survival.