Holocaust survivors visit Santa Monica High School

The Santa Monica High School Theatre has teamed with the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH) and with Writer’s Room Productions to present “Voice of Survivors” to local students.

Students in Theatre Director, Kate Barraza’s Acting class participated in the LAMOTH Voices of History Theatre Workshop recently. The Voice of History Theatre program brings together students and survivors of the Holocaust to create artistic mediums.

LAMOTH organizers said they strongly believes the museums’ mission to educate the public about the Holocaust. They said the program captures their mission as well as staying connected to the community in a positive and impactful way.

“This year, LAMOTH worked with Santa Monica High School Theatre Department and the students learned interviewing and oral history skills, toured the museum, met with and learned from four different survivors,” said Rachel Fidler, Creative Programs Director at LAMOTH.

The production will reflect scenes from the narratives of four different Holocaust survivors, Avraham Perlmutter, David Lenga, Edith Frankie, and Erika Fabian.

“This program is one of the most profound experiences that I have been a part of in my 15 year teaching career,” said Barraza.

Students said have been given an opportunity to speak with survivors, and many of them felt privileged, because of the decreasing number of survivors still around to tell their story. The class was divided into four groups, with each group assigned to a specific survivor. Their task was to hear their story and create an original piece about one of the survivors while adding their own twist.

Celia Debonnet, Junior said, “I learned a lot about the Holocaust throughout my middle school and high school career. When we got to talk to Holocaust survivors, it became a real experience to me, it was no longer a story in a book.”

After meeting with their particular survivor, the students met with Writer’s Room Production. The organization mentored the students into creating their original piece and thinking outside the box. Not only are they writing and directing this piece, the students themselves will be performing their original pieces on March 22 at 7 p.m.

LAMOTH and Samohi’s Theatre Department have been working together for two months now and are eager to present their final performance.

“Personally, it’s been incredibly inspiring to see these high school students to openly and wholeheartedly embrace the personal life stories of these four special individuals,” said Fidler. “ We are grateful to Santa Monica High School for allowing for this unique and meaningful opportunity, and I am very excited to see the final performance.”

The production will be held on Mar. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Humanities Center, Santa Monica High School.

“I really hope at the end of this production the kids received an understanding of compassion in a deeper and meaningful way,” said Kate. “I also want them to gain confidence and feel good about producing art.”

Tickets can be purchased online, with a suggested donation of $10 an adult and $5 a student. https://lamoth.ticketleap.com/voices-of-survivors/