The realities and tribulations of being a child during war was a story the Central Alberta Christian School (CACHS) students told in their most recent drama production.
The CACHS Drama 20/30 classes presented the play And A Child Shall Lead on June 3rd and 4th.
The play written by Michael Slade tells the heroic and true story of children coming of age in Terezin, a Jewish city established by the Nazis near Prague during the Second World War. Terezin was considered a halfway stop for the children before they continued on to death camps. Even in the face of the unspeakable horror around them, the children living in the camp used their determination and creativity to build active lives filled with hope through playing, studying, creating art and writing an underground newspaper.
Actual poems and stories from Terezin were woven into the fast-paced drama, evoking the universality of a child caught in the midst of war, said director and drama instructor Diane McLeod.
This year’s production featured a cast of 15 students.
“Everyone had a role, but some did audition for some of the lead parts,” said McLeod. The play featured eight main characters, with the remaining seven playing a large role behind the scenes and sometimes on stage through running the puppet show, setting up the PowerPoint presentation and creating detailed props.
“It was one of those plays,” said McLeod. “It was very special as it was based on a historical event.”
Although the students had requested a musical this year, McLeod said And A Child Shall Lead did feature live music with several of the students singing and playing instruments like the violin or recorder.
“It did have a musical aspect,” she said.
For the past nine years CACHS has put on comedic drama productions. This year, the administration decided the timing was right to take on a serious dramatic production.
“We did put it before the students before the final decision,” said McLeod.
Once they had presented the idea and began to look over scripts for And A Child Shall Lead, one of the students came forward and said she had visited Terezin with her family last summer.
The group began looking at the student’s photos of Terezin and began to flesh out some of the characters. Through the photos taken by the student, they created the minimalist set and some of the props like the bunk beds.
Even though the subject matter of the production was very serious, the play did have, “Moments of levity,” explained McLeod.
“It was very powerful,” said McLeod of And A Child Shall Lead. “The students did a phenomenal job and they had huge sections of memorization. By the time we actually put on the production, they had become these characters. It was very impactive.”