Drama at Clifford’s Tower – rediscovered play comes out of the shadows

An unusual venue for theatre: Clifford’s Tower (Picture: English Heritage)
13 Apr 2016 @ 4.11 pm
| Community news, Entertainment, History

An unusual venue for theatre: Clifford’s Tower (Picture: English Heritage)
An unusual venue for theatre: Clifford’s Tower (Picture: English Heritage)
It’s a dramatic backdrop for two nights of theatre.

The Smoke of Home

Clifford’s Tower, York

April 16 and 17 @ 8pm and 9.30pm


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A recently rediscovered play written in the World War II Jewish ghetto at Terezín (in German, Theresienstadt) will be staged in Clifford’s Tower, a venue as historically bleak as the play’s origins.

This exceptional performance will launch the Out of the Shadows festival of Jewish music and theatre.

In 1190, York’s Jewish population took refuge in a castle on the site where Clifford’s Tower now stands, as they sought to escape the anti-Semitic riots sweeping the country.

Besieged, most of the Jews chose to commit suicide; the survivors were killed by a murderous mob.

More than 800 years after that devastating event, the voices of Jewish artists will be heard within the walls of this English Heritage site.

Students from the University of York, directed by alumnus Joe Lichtenstein, will stage The Smoke of Home.

And the opening performance will be live streamed from 7.30pm.

Poignant and uplifting

The play is the first of a series of performances in York and Leeds to take place in April and June under the banner Out of the Shadows: Rediscovering Jewish Music and Theatre.

Dr Stephen Muir, a senior lecturer in musicology and performance at the University of Leeds’ School of Music and head of Performing the Jewish Archive, a major research project to highlight such lost or forgotten works.

He said: “This festival promises to be a poignant and uplifting programme of events celebrating the lives and achievements of Jewish artists.”

Festival highlights include the Nash Ensemble, the Grammy-nominated New Budapest Orpheum Society, and other internationally-renowned performers.

The programme includes world and modern-day premieres of cabaret, theatre, and piano music by a 12-year-old prodigy from the Warsaw ghetto, as well as chamber music, song, and a rare exhibition of children’s drawings from the Terezín ghetto.

Events in York

• ‘The Smoke of Home’ – Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 April, 8.00 pm and 9.30 pm, Clifford’s Tower, York;

• ‘Harlequin in the Ghetto’ – Thursday 2 June to Sunday 5 June, 7.30 pm, The Black Box, University of York; with a pre-performance talk with Professor Rebecca Rovit at 6.00 pm on opening night, plus a Q&A session after each performance;

• ‘Make once more my heart thy home: The choral music of Hans Gál’ – Friday 10 June, 7.30 pm, National Centre for Early Music, York; with a pre-concert conversation with the composer’s daughter, Eva Fox-Gál at 6.45 pm;

• Fractured Lives: Music of the Holocaust’, Noreen and Philip Silver (cello and piano) – Wednesday 15 June, 1.00 pm, All Saints’ Pavement, York;

• ‘The New Budapest Orpheum Society: Jewish cabaret tradition’ – Thursday 16 June, 7.30 pm, National Centre for Early Music, York; with a pre-concert talk at 6.45 pm.

For full details, prices and bookings, visit the Performing The Jewish Archive website or call 0113 343 2574.