YOUNG people’s responses to the evil of genocide will be expressed on Holocaust Memorial Day tomorrow, as David Whetstone reports.
THE creativity of young people across the city will make Holocaust Memorial Day itself a day to remember.
A photographic project and a theatrical performance will be important features of tomorrow afternoon’s programme at Newcastle Civic Centre which also includes speeches, personal testimonies and various formalities.
The occasion calls for a subtle approach. The audience will be invited to remember the terrible things that human beings have done to each other and also to celebrate the human potential for doing good.
The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day, and of the events around it, is Communities Together: Build a Bridge.
A young Wallsend-based theatre company, Theatre Auracaria, was commissioned to put tomorrow’s programme together by Newcastle City Council.
Amy Golding, founder of Theatre Auracaria, said they decided to put the focus on youth and to create a short piece of theatre.
A group of 10 young people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds had been gathered together to take part.
Some had previous performing experience and others didn’t but all have spent the past few weeks preparing for the piece to be performed tomorrow, which is called Imagine.
“We have been researching around the Holocaust and various other genocides,” said Amy. “We’ve watched films and done some reading. We also had someone from Freedom From Torture, Alan Bryce, who gave us some insight.”
The youngsters also met Newcastle resident Deanna Van der Velde, an orthodox Jew whose parents left Poland just before the Second World War broke out.
“We also had a writer, Ian Dowson, who did some writing workshops with the group to generate material,” said Amy.
“They wrote poems and stories and also did some automatic writing, where you write in response to a particular stimulus such as a line from a script.
“We’ve created a piece of ensemble theatre called Imagine, exploring some very difficult and sensitive issues around the Holocaust and genocide.
“It is set in a place that could be anywhere at any time and it looks at what it’s like to have to leave your country and your family very suddenly. Through metaphor and poetry it looks at what it is like to be somewhere where terrible things are happening.
“For us it was important that it encapsulated all the genocides that are still happening in places like Sudan.
“Before the research a lot of the young people didn’t know a lot about what happened in places such as Rwanda or Cambodia or Bosnia so it has been interesting.
“A lot of them, especially when they talked to Alan, were really shocked and quite upset that this sort of thing still goes on.”
The making of Imagine was also filmed by a young North Shields- based film company called Big River Films and their documentary will also be shown tomorrow.
An exhibition will feature photographs resulting from a project involving Newcastle schoolchildren and the Newcastle City Learning Centre.
The youngsters were invited to take photos on their mobiles to illustrate the Holocaust Memorial Day theme.