Even in the darkest places on earth, there is always the need for light and for laughter. 

Making Light in Terezin explores the little-known role that theater, cabaret, and comedy played in improving and even saving the lives of some of the Jews who lived in the Terezin ghetto in World War II.

Based on the book of the same name and broadcast originally on PBS, a review by the Twin Cities affiliate TPT (which was close to the project) read “MAKING LIGHT IN TEREZIN tells the true story of how Jewish prisoners held in a concentration camp during World War II fought back against the Nazis – not with guns or bombs – but through song, dance and laughter. In 2005, Lisa Peschel, now a theater studies professor at the University of York, discovered a collection of cabaret scripts – “Laugh With Us”- originally written by four 20-year-old prisoners held in the Czech concentration camp of Terezin. Located outside of Prague, Terezin effectively served as a way station, housing Jews before the Nazis sent them to Auschwitz and other death camps. In the face of this horrific darkness and uncertainty, the Jewish prisoners wrote and enacted comedy shows in a make-shift cabaret. The poignant and inspiring documentary follows a modern-day theater troupe from Minnesota as they travel to Terezin and attempt to re-stage the shows. Weaving together interviews with the original writers, witnesses to the original production, and scholars, MAKING LIGHT IN TEREZIN tells a story not only of survival, but also the triumph of a culture, artistic expression and the human spirit.”

The film follows a modern-day theater group from Minnesota as they travel to the Czech Republic to perform a cabaret piece originally performed in Terezin in 1943.

Butterflies in the Ghetto wrote that the film “gives us deep insight into the ways that theater helped many Jews cope with the terrible reality of their everyday lives in Terezin. Despite the starvation, disease and constant fear of transports, there were musicians and playwrights who continued to produce and perform plays and musical productions, even in the early period of Terezin when such creative efforts were forbidden.”

The film includes interviews with survivors who witnessed the original performances. Among them are Jake Ehrenreich, Hayley Finn, Jan Fischer and Judita Flüsserová.

2012 / 88 minutes / a film by Richard Krevolin


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