I Never Saw Another Butterfly
by The Rainbow Company Youth Theatre

During World War II some 15,000 Jewish children were held by the Nazis in the prison camp of Terezin located in the current Czech Republic. Most of them were systematically transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Only about 100 of those 15,000 children survived the war. But during their stay in Terezin they attended a makeshift school in which they were encouraged to create drawings and poetry – works that were preserved in two suitcases and became immortalized in Hana Volavkova’s book I Never Saw Another Butterfly, the inspiration for Celeste Raspanti’s powerful play.

That play is currently being produced by the Rainbow Company in Las Vegas with a cast and crew made up almost entirely of youth ages 10 – 18. Brian Kral directs the show within the intimate confines of the Reed Whipple Studio Theatre, using the small space to great effect. The stark set consists of brick ghetto walls with a couple worn suitcases, on the side is a small bunk bed reminiscent of the kind used at Terezin, a barbed-wire fence descends from the ceiling to separate the girls of Terezin from the young boys, and on the otherwise bare brick walls are reproductions of the pictures drawn by the students of Terezin, all of whom would soon be dead.

The cast is led by the extraordinary performance of Devin Bozzelli as Raja Englanderova. As one of the only children to survive the war, it is through her eyes we see Terezin and its prisoners. Over the years she spent in the camp, we see her from her frightened and confused introduction to Terezin to her realization of what was truly going on in the camp and to the people sent from the camp to Auschwitz, forcing her to grow up early to her terrifying reality. Devin palpably portrays all of her wide range of emotions – the fear of the unknown, the devastation of separation from her happy childhood, the respect for her teacher, youthful and optimistic romance with a boy, the devastation when the Nazis tear it all away, and the strength to carry on for herself and the memories of the people she knew and loved.

Devin is joined by a strong cast including Dale Segal, the only adult in the show, who is the genuinely concerned teacher Irena Synkova who teaches the kids of Terezin so that she can feel her young daughter is somehow alive – a daughter who was torn from her embrace and thrown off a train by Nazi soldiers. Joey Hines is Honzo Kosek, the brave and resourceful leader of the boys in Terezin who faces a different kind of fear when he finds himself falling for Raja, but fortunately he faces that fear with equal bravery. The ensemble does a terrific job of setting the various moods of the show, whether it be participating in an entertaining opera to inspire them in their fearful existence, giving us glimpses into their ordinary lives in such extraordinary circumstances, or in the chilling conclusion as the children depart while their art and words remain.

Performs through April 16, 2006.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Raja Englanderova: Devin Bozzelli
Irena Synkova: Dale Segal
Renka Fischl: Alyssa Tufano
Eva Vulova: Adriana Lee
Hana Lissauova: Tylen Irons
Elly Hellerova: Rebecca Carrol
Liana Franklova: Diana Rodriguez
Marika Fiedmanova: Danielle Carrol
Gabriela Frejova: Harper Kral
Honza Kosek: Joey Hines
Alfred Weiskopf: Josh Burns

Director: Brian Kral
Set Designers: Stefan Martin, Keaton Reed
Costume Designers: Chelsee Bergen, Kayla Royster, Kitty Slaughter
Lighting Designer: Khadige Keita
Sound Designers: Kearsten Kuroishi, Lauren Tuvell


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