Column echoes Notre Dame drama

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

As I sat in the library Friday, doing my duty as fifth-hour librarian, I rapidly scanned the Southeast Missourian in between student requests for copies from the copier, checking or rechecking books and signing Accelerated Reader book test results.

One word stopped my heart: Kristallnacht.

I folded the paper so I could conveniently keep it in front of me as I scanned bar codes, quieted students and answered a variety of questions. I read the first two paragraphs of Joe Sullivan's column and caught my breath enough to type another name and scan another book.

I read to the beginning of the Staten Island story and paused to remember Sunday brunches at Top of the World with the beautiful view of the New York harbor and Lady Liberty. Finally, I had time to finish reading the column. I checked the clock. How long did I have to fight back the tears that were rapidly filling my eyes?

I spent the last two months with a cast and crew of over 30 young adults preparing a performance memorial to those who survived Kristallnacht and those who didn't. It is titled "And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank" by James Still.

Diversity has a new meaning to those students. The Holocaust is more than a history lesson. The students playing the roles of actual survivors felt as though they had shared a part of the horrors of Kristallnacht, the relocation, the hiding.

The actors, the assistant directors and I were stunned by the overwhelming emotional impact opening night had on the intimate audience. At the end of the performance there was silence -- no applause -- instead a quiet reverence to those who should be remembered "for better things."

Our last performance was Nov. 8, the eve of Kristallnacht. Hopefully the candles that burned at the end of each show will help, as Sullivan said, "keep alive those memories so they are never repeated."

I posted a copy of the column in my room next to pictures of our production. Many of the cast members came to read it, in silence. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. L'chaim!

Cynthia R. King teaches drama at Notre Dame Regional High School in Cape Girardeau.

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