Tracing the Light

Acorn Theater. complete show.

00:07Copy video clip URL Lights rise to a woman onstage as the play “Tracing the Light,” begins. She talks about having to leave Vienna during WWII. She says that when she arrives to Terezin, she wants to teach art to the children there.

2:30Copy video clip URL Stage goes dark, and then is lit by blue light. A group of children greet a young boy, Rudy, that has just arrived. They try to comfort him, but he doesn’t want to speak with them. He expresses anger about being kicked out of his home, and not being respected as a German citizen. The other kids remind him that he’s Jewish. He continues to lament that he doesn’t belong there.

6:03Copy video clip URL The woman from the first scene arrives and introduces herself as Fredericka, or Friedl. She hands out art supplies to the kids. She shows them how to make a rubbing of the wooden floor. She gives them some exercises for imagining images in the grain of the wood, and asks them all their names. She collects their drawings and leaves. Stage goes dark.

13:10Copy video clip URL Lights appear on kids sitting at tables and drawing. Friedl walks between them and asks one child about her drawing. The girl is reluctant to talk about the drawing. The girl eventually says that the drawing is of a mother next to her dead daughter. Friedl talks to her about the stories that art can tell. The girl says she can’t draw pictures of her family because she is angry with her parents, who left her in Germany when they went to Palestine. Friedl speaks with her about the difficulty of the world they’re living in.

18:40Copy video clip URL A new girl arrives. Friedl greets him, but she stays silent, clutching an instrument. Another child comes in and says that her brother was arrested for stealing a lemon. She describes what happened and how her brother got caught. Friedl tells everyone to calm down, and they all leave to get ready for bed. Friedl looks at the drawings and talks to herself about the difficulty of the situation they are living in. She speaks about her own art and how it has helped her. Stage goes dark.

26:13Copy video clip URL A flashlight comes onstage. The person with the flashlight wakes some of the children and leads them out of the room. Dark stage. Friedl comes onstage with new art supplies, and doesn’t realize at first that some of the kids are gone. As she notices the missing kids, another child tells her what happened. She gathers the remaining kids and they look out the window together. She says that they all need to feel free to cry. They talk about the kids they miss. One of the kids asks why Hitler is so angry with them, and she says it’s because he’s a terrible artist. One of the kids receive a package, and they all open it together. Friedl says it’s too late to start drawing, and sends the kids to bed. Stage goes dark. 

37:20Copy video clip URL Instead of sleeping, some of the kids start talking about Friedl. One girl says that it’s weird that she talks when no one else is there. She says that she feels bad for Friedl, because she doesn’t have any children, and she must be sad sometimes too. Two other kids start arguing, when the Rudy returns to talking about how he doesn’t belong there. Rudy says that Friedl’s teaching is illegal, and threatens to report it. The other kids go back to bed.

43:11Copy video clip URL In the morning, the kids talk about their laundry. One girl’s underwear is stolen. The girl who arrived with her violin takes it out and plays for the kids. Another child who also plays joins her. Some other kids make soup from dandelion greens and wild onions. They talk about their favorite meals from back home. Friedl arrives and says she’s going to make a birthday cake for one of the kids. All the children wonder how. The kids eat the soup. One girl refuses to eat, and tells Friedl that she and her family are going to be taken from the camp. She leaves, and promises that she’ll see them again. Stage goes dark.

54:31Copy video clip URL End of Act I. 

#### Camera opens on Friedl holding a puppet. She talks about the Red Cross coming to the camps, and how the Nazi government is putting on a front of fair treatment for Jewish people for them. She talks about the ridiculousness of their efforts. She says she has to put on a marionette show for the inspectors. Stage goes dark. 

#### Lights rise on some of the kids eating. One girl says she traded  her bread for a drawing she liked. The kids berate her for giving away her food. Rudy takes the drawing, and says it’s illegal. She takes it back. Friedl comes in and asks to see the drawing. Rudy says she should tear it up. Friedl talks about how they have very little freedom, but that they can choose how they conduct themselves. One of the girls is sick, and the kids worry for her. She says that she took radishes from the children’s garden and had to eat all the food to avoid being caught with it. Stage goes dark. 

#### Open on marionette show. They tell the Jewish story of the Golem, sometimes slipping up and saying something that betrays the true nature of the camp. They bow after the show and then clean up. Friedl greets some of the people who watched the show, but they leave quickly. She says she can’t believe that the inspectors of from the Red Cross were fooled, and wonders what will be remembered of them after the war. She decides to save all of the children’s art. 

#### Another boy receives notice that he has been called to leave the camp. He talks about how he painted during the Red Cross visit, and accidentally revealed the art they’d been making in class to one of the inspectors, and that’s why he’s been chosen to leave. The kids say goodbye to him. He gives away his violin bow. One of the kids gives him a drawing to take with him. Stage goes dark and he leaves. One of the girls looks out the window and talks to the moon. The kids hear a violin playing, and think of the boy who just left. Stage goes dark. 

#### Flashlight appears again. Friedl walks in and there are pink slips all over the floor, indicating that they will all be leaving the camp. The kids pack. Friedl looks at all the art hanging on the walls. She says they will leave the art for people to find later. Friedl says she volunteered to leave the camp with them so they could all be together. They gather to make one more drawing. Friedl talks about Rembrandt while they draw. The train comes and they leave. Stage goes dark. End of Act II

#### They come onstage and bow. Applause. 

#### Each actor introduces themselves and the character they played.

#### “Tracing the Light” Documentary Introduction Sequence. Play by Donna Blue Lachman and Film by Rana Segal. Clip of the first scene of the play. Lachman, the actress who played Friedl explains what Terezin was. Another clip from the play. She talks about the facade that Terezin put on. She describes the real woman, Friedl Brandeis. Brandeis was a designer who created furniture, painted, and helped create Montessori schools. Lachman describes her visit to Prauge and Terezin, including a visit with a man who had been a child in Terezin that Brandeis taught.

#### She describes writing the play and meeting the children for the first time. 



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