The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will present this year’s first program of the 2011 Collegiate Series with Fairmont State University’s (FSU) School of Fine Arts and Masquers production of Kindertransport by Diane Samuels. The program will take place in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater of the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston, on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. The Collegiate Series is free and the public is invited to attend.
Kindertransport tells the story of Evelyn, a brusque middle-aged housewife, and her daughter, Faith, The story is set in the attic of a suburban London house in the 1980s. Evelyn and Faith, who have a trying relationship, are sorting through the cardboard boxes and steamer trunks that fill the space.
Through a series of flashbacks, the audience meets Eva, a frightened nine-year-old Jewish girl, who tagged like a piece of luggage, leaves her mother in Hamburg and travels to England where the well-meaning Lil takes over her upbringing. Over time, the distraught child grows into a reserved young woman, her accent fades as do, presumably, the old traumas.
Samuels’ play is about identity, what happens when you deny it and when your identity is denied you. Kindertransport deals with the consequences of repression on Evelyn, a woman so wrapped up, she’s in a kind of emotional paralysis.
The Kindertransport was an effort that saved approximately 10,000 children, most of them Jewish, from the Holocaust. Trains and ships transported children to Great Britain from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Austria between December 1938 and the beginning of World War II in September 1939.
The children were not accompanied by their parents. Almost half of them lived with families who were willing to take them in. Others lived in hostels and camps or worked as servants in homes. Many of the children joined the British or Australian military when they turned 18 to fight against the Nazis. Most never saw their parents again.
For more information about the Collegiate Series or the FSU School of Fine Arts and Masquers production of Kindertransport, contact Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.
The Collegiate Series consists of performances and lectures by students and faculty from West Virginia’s colleges and universities.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.