© Geraldine Brophy
Both Christian House, 16, right, and his 10-year-old brother Tyler have landed roles in Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s (TNL) community/youth production of “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.”
Two brothers from Massey Drive are gaining more of an understanding of what it was like to live through the Holocaust.
Christian House, 16, and his 10-year-old brother Tyler both have roles in Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s (TNL) community/youth production of “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.”
The play by Celeste Raspanti is the story of the children who passed through the Terezin ghetto during the Holocaust. Over 15,000 Jewish children passed through the ghetto and only about one hundred were still alive when Terezin was liberated at the end of the Second World War.
Christian plays a Nazi soldier in the play.
He’s been involved with TNL’s youth program for nine years and doesn’t think the play is a tough subject to take on.
“I really think that it’s a good thing that there are kids in a show like this, despite its brutality and its focus on genocide and death,” Christian said. “I think that it kind of brings more of an awareness to the kids and allowing them to remember the lives that were lost.”
Christian said he had some knowledge of the Holocaust and the Second World War going into the play from reading books. And both are topics he’s currently studying in Level 1 at Corner Brook Regional High.
“I feel with doing it in school you get a sense of it, but with me re-enacting it and being on stage, it kind of makes it feel like a personal thing,” he said. “You understand it on a more emotional and mental level. The re-enactment and seeing the fear of it all.”
As for playing one of the bad guys, Christian said “there’s always that anger that you really like to get out there.
“And especially with this role, because with the Nazi soldiers there was always that level of anger and deceit with them. And it’s a scary thing really.”
There’s one scene in particular where the brothers interact. In it the Nazi soliders are dividing the Jewish men, women and children into groups.
“And it’s a very violent and brutal scene watching the soldiers and their relationship with the Jewish kids,” Christian said.
With the pushing and screaming, he said it does get emotional.
“It really makes me feel aware of the kind of things that they (the Nazis) did,” he said. “I understand what they did was a really brutal thing, but actually kind of seeing it in the perception of someone that did it, to have that kind of power against them. It shows a devastation really.”
'Drags me away'
For Tyler, who plays one of the Jewish children, it’s a very scary scene to be a part of as it he and his brother interact in opposition to one another.
“He drags me away from my fake father in the play and that was actually pretty scary,” said Tyler adding especially if it was real life.
From playing a child in the ghetto, Tyler said he can see how the children kept there felt and how they were treated.
And the fact, the Jewish kids were forced to eat lice and rats, was a terrible thing.
“They ate potato peelings, probably only one of the foods that was healthy that they could eat,” Tyler said.
The play is not his first exposure to the Holocaust either.
A Grade 5 student at Humber Elementary, Tyler said he watched “Hana’s Suitcase” in Grade 3 and learned what the young Jewish girl experienced during the war.
“I Never Saw Another Butterfly” is directed by Sarah McDonald and will be onstage at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.