Venice Theatre presents the historical drama I Never Saw Another Butterfly
Director Murray Chase and multi-generational cast tell the true story of the children of Terezin
(Venice, FL) Venice Theatre’s Generations Series is proud to present Celeste Raspanti’s drama, I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Based on poems and drawings of children living in the Terezin ghetto during World War II, the play opens Thursday, Sept. 10 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. Performances take place on Venice Theatre’s Pinkerton Stage at 7 p.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $10 for students through 12th grade, $13 for college students and $18 for adults. The show is recommended for students in fourth grade and older. Tickets can be purchased online at www.venicestage.com or by calling the box office at 941-488-1115. An online discount is available for the Saturday matinees when customers use the code “Butterfly.”
A school-time performance on Friday September 18, 2015 at 11 a.m. is also available. Tickets for this performance are $10 and include a talk-back with the cast and director following the show. For more information and to book tickets for the school-time performance, email Kristofer Geddie or call him at 941-488-1115 extension 247. I Never Saw Another Butterfly is generously sponsored by Burton-Taylor International Consulting LLC with media sponsorship by The Jewish Federation of Sarasota Manatee.
I Never Saw Another Butterfly takes place from 1942 to 1945, when over 15,000 Jewish children passed through Terezin, a former military post outside Prague set up as a Jewish ghetto. When Terezin was liberated at the end of the war, only about 100 children survived. One of the survivors was Raja Englanderova who returned to Prague after the war and become a doctor. She is still living today. The play is told through Raja’s eyes.
Haley Faye, a junior at Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts program, plays Raja. Faye says, “Rehearsing this play has been an incredible journey. The research I’ve done for my role has helped me grow as an actress and a person. I knew about the Holocaust and about Auschwitz, but I wasn’t aware of Terezin. The adults there were so amazing, sacrificing their own well-being so that the children could eat and learn and play.”
One of those adults, a teacher, is played by Cheryl Andrews. Her character is based on Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, an artist who lived in Terezin. She encouraged the children in the camp to express their experiences and feelings through poetry and drawing. Raja recalled, “I remember Mrs. Brandeis as a tender, highly intelligent woman, who managed – for some hours every week – to create a fairy world for us in Terezin… a world that made us forget all the surrounding hardships that we were not spared despite our young ages.”
The phrase “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” comes from a poem written by a young man named Pavel Friedman, portrayed in Venice’s production by Nicholas Winkelmeyer. Before the war ended his poem and other artwork and poetry were buried so it would not be discovered and destroyed by the Nazis. At the war’s end Willy Groag, a former Terezin prisoner, was appointed coordinator of the children and youth department at the ghetto. His responsibilities included the rapid repatriation of the ghetto’s young population. Raja gave him two suitcases of children’s drawings and poems which he gave to the Prague Jewish community. Authorities initially showed little interest in the poems and drawings, but after collecting dust for 10 years they were rediscovered and exhibited.
Venice Theatre last presented I Never Saw Another Butterfly in the 1999-2000 Season to sold-out houses. Murray Chase, Venice Theatre’s Executive/Artistic Director, first became aware of the play 25 years ago and has wanted to direct it ever since. He says, “I’m honored to introduce this story to a new generation of families. It shows us how the best of the human spirit can triumph over the worst evil.”
The resilient spirit of I Never Saw Another Butterfly is evident when Raja delivers these lines: “Fear—this is half the story of Terezin—its beginning, but not its end. I was a child there, I knew that word. I became a woman there because I learned another word from Erica and Pavel, from Father and Mother, from Irena Synkova. I learned the word ‘courage’ and found the determination to live—to believe in life.”
Again, tickets for I Never Saw Another Butterfly and all shows through June 2016 are available at www.venicestage.com or by calling the box office at 941-488-1115. Summer box office hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and one hour before show-time. The theatre is located at 140 W. Tampa Ave. on the island in Venice.
I Never Saw Another Butterfly
By Celeste Raspanti
Director – Murray Chase
Stage Manager – James Podewitz
Technical Director/Lighting Designer – John Andzulis
Scenic Designer – Brian Freeman
Costume Designer – Chelsea Sorensen
Sound Designer – Dorian Boyd
Props Master – Lisa Million
Raja Englanderova – Haley Faye
Father – Ric Goodwin
Mother – Amy Pickens
Pavel – Nicholas Winkelmeyer
Erika & other roles – Jillian Alexander
Irena – Cheryl Andrews
Renka – Claudia Hassler
Irca – Anna Sand
Honza – Brady Cooper
Rabbi – Bennett Gross
Children of Terezin – Sarah Baron, Ava Pickens, Ava Podewitz, Lauren Andrews, McKenna Dalton, Ryan Hunek
German Guards/Narrators – Natalie Taylor and Haley Vidolin
140 W. Tampa Ave
Venice, FL 34285
TICKETS: 941-488-1115 | www.venicestage.com
Venice Theatre is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making a dramatic impact on all stages of life. The second-largest of 10,000 community theatres in the United States, it is located at 140 W. Tampa Ave. in Venice, FL. Its MainStage offers seating for 432 patrons and features musicals, plays, concerts and special events. Its Yvonne Pinkerton Theatre seats 90 patrons and is home to the theatre’s “Generations,” Stage II and Cabaret Series. In addition to providing entertainment to the community, Venice Theatre offers a wide range of education and outreach programs for children and adults.