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  Cape Town Holocaust Centre > Events > Surviving History


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Brundibár & The Children and the Bees

The Cape Town Holocaust Centre initiated The Brundibár Project to promote visual and performing arts, while using them as a vehicle for remembering and honouring, and to build a culture of human rights.

In the spirit of 'ubuntu', the project is a collaboration between the Cape Town Holocaust Centre, Artscape, Cape Town Opera, Magnet Theatre, the Frank Joubert Art Centre, Ibhabhathane and members of the South African Arts Community.

The Brundibár Project draws its inspiration from the story and the performances of the children's opera, Brundibár, written by Czech Jewish composer, Hans Krása. Based on a Czech folktale, Brundibár was performed 55 times in the Nazi ghetto, Terezín, before its composer and many of the children in the cast were transported to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Those who survived the horror and deprivation of Terezín, speak of the performances of Brundibár as "small bright sparks of hope and defiance in a long, dark night".

From 18-21 July 2011, the opera will be performed for the first time in South Africa at Artscape Theatre, Cape Town. Directed by Aviva Pelham, Brundibár tells the tale of a poor family whose children seek money to buy milk for their sick mother, only to have their quest thwarted by an evil organ grinder named Brundibár. With the help of three intelligent animals, the children defeat the unjust bully and return home to save their mother.

The story of Brundibár and its performances at Terezín, illustrate how art can become a tool of survival and give one hope in the most dire of circumstances. Mark Fleishman of Magnet Theatre, assisted by Frances Marek, Faniswa Yisa and Alex Halligey will direct high school students and Magnet Theatre Trainees in The Children and the Bees, a workshopped play based on similar themes, using South African story-telling tradition to explore the themes of displacement, migration and refugees.

The opening night rightly coincides with Nelson Mandela International Day, encouraging people everywhere to take responsibility for making the world a better place, one small step at a time, just as Nelson Mandela did.

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