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Youth Holocaust drama : a study of history, memory and national identity / by Erika Hughes

Publication | Library Call Number: PN1879.H65 H84 2009

In examining plays from the United States, Germany, and Israel, this dissertation argues that each country has its own, distinct reasons for producing Holocaust plays for its respective young audiences. I use play texts, production histories, reviews and interviews to support this claim. The plays herein reflect very different ideas of what the Holocaust was, who was affected, and what to do about it after the fact—how it should be remembered, or commemorated, or serve as a warning for the future. The major finding of this dissertation concerns the ways the Holocaust is interpreted differently by three countries, with each contributing to its particular perspective on the identical historical event. While America has produced a sizable canon of Holocaust plays for young audiences, the majority of the plays discussed in this dissertation fit into a mould that is at once sentimental and universalizing, qualities that provide insight into tendencies in America's drama in general. The German productions discussed herein reject sentimentality in favor of a more critical approach. These plays engage audiences to look within the distinct situations presented onstage and form their own questions about German accountability. The selection of performances from Israel discussed here reflect both the unique nature of Israeli theatre and the deep divides within the ways Israel represents the Holocaust to itself. They are also indicative of the way in which the Holocaust continues to serve as a unifying event in Israel's history, regardless of one's personal heritage or connection to the Holocaust. Holocaust performance for young audiences is a product of many different and distinct cultural elements, and is inextricably linked to the way in which nations understand and define themselves in relation to the Holocaust. Because each country was involved with the Holocaust in a different way, the plays for youth they produce make different assumptions about the same historical event, and commemorate it with the purpose of defining its cultural meaning. Yet they were all staged because theatre makers felt the need to continue the dialogue about the Holocaust with future generations.

Hughes, Erika.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 276-286)
Record last modified: 2018-11-21 09:49:00
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