Monday, March 18, 2013

A Theatrical Production--Danielle Sargent

March 14, 2013

Today was one of our more “slower” days in Poland.  We were not shuffling around Poland constantly going from one place to another.  Instead, we spent the majority of our day in different lectures learning about the Holocaust from different perspectives.  One of these perspectives was about the way that the Holocaust is portrayed theatrically by Professor Donnarumma.  The one place that we did go during the day was to a place called Harmeze where we received a tour of an art gallery.  This gallery was full of artwork created by a Holocaust survivor, whose story was very inspiring to me.   

This Holocaust survivor, number 423:  Marian Kolodziej.  He had suffered from a stroke, and when he woke up, the first thing he asked for was a pencil.  Before this, Marian never really spoke about what he had went through during the Holocaust, but this began his long journey into expressing himself.  He had drawn hundreds and hundreds of faces and eyes as well as other images to show his memories of the camps and of the other prisoners. 

His artwork is very raw and it expresses how the prisoners were stripped of everything and left with nothing but their bare bones.  The gallery was displayed in a dungeon type environment which was cold, dirty, and eerie, which I believe is perfect for the type of message he is trying to get across to his audience:  the message of pain and suffering and survival.   Marian Kolodziej also showed a separation between good and evil in his artworks by splitting one of the rooms into artworks which reflected those that had tried to help the prisoners versus another side which depicted the Nazis and those who sought to harm the prisoners. 

Reflecting back on the lecture with Professor Donnarumma, I am intrigued by how Marian was choosing to express himself with his artworks, when sometimes some of the prisoners were forced to do so while in the camp.  A lot of people do not know this, but sometimes the prisoners were forced to perform shows for the officers.  They even had buildings designated for such things.  In the concentration camp of Buchenwald, these activities were licensed and illicit.  The prisoners could only perform for the guards, and not for each other or in their spare time (although many still did).  In the Dachau concentration camp, theatre was not permitted whatsoever except when outsiders visited the camps, in which case it was used to make the camp look good and seem as normal as possible.

According to some, the healthiest release was in the form of satire and making fun of certain parts of camp life.  For some, this was the only way to get through the day.  Thinking about the Holocaust, this is something that I would not have expected to have occurred, but learning about it, it makes sense.  These activities for the prisoners proved that humanity still existed for them even while the Nazis thought otherwise.


Post a Comment