We're taking "Why We Laugh" to the Czech Republic! A sponsored project of the non-profit arts service organization Springboard for the Arts.
An original adaptation of "Laugh with Us," a cabaret written in the Terezín Ghetto by Dr. Felix Porges, Vítězslav "Pidla" Horpatzky, Pavel Weisskopf, and Pavel Stránský, by Kira Obolensky
Your donations will help us take our production of "Why We Laugh" to the Czech Republic. On June 15 we will perform the cabaret in Terezín for an international audience of visitors to the Rafael Schächter Institute for the Arts and Humanities, including the most important spectators of all: the survivors of the Terezín Ghetto. Production costs are covered by a generous donation from the Defiant Requiem Foundation; we are seeking additional funding for expenses associated with our travel, survivor outreach, etc. Contributions made through Springboard for the Arts are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
In December 2010 a five-day workshop of "Why We Laugh" took place at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis with the generous support of Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council. For more information and for reservations to the performance please see
In the World War II Jewish Ghetto at Terezín (in German, Theresienstadt), four young Czech Jews created an escape from the ghetto while never leaving its walls. By setting their cabaret, "Laugh with Us," in postwar Prague—a Prague identical to the one they remembered from the late 1930s—the performers simultaneously returned to the world they missed and expressed their hopes for a postwar future. They also engaged with the ghetto itself: by "looking back" with humor upon their time in Terezín, they converted the most terrifying events of their present into a source of laughter rather than fear.
"Why We Laugh" combines scenes and songs from the original cabaret with new scenes that reflect upon a scholar's attempts to imagine how that original cabaret might have been performed. As the characters in the cabaret look to the future, and a contemporary scholar looks to the past, each confronts the other with difficult questions—why did the Terezín prisoners laugh, and what does that laughter mean to us today, knowing what we know about their history?
THE DEVELOPMENT TEAM
Kira Obolensky (playwright) is a Guggenheim Fellow and has also received fellowships and grants from the Henson Foundation, the NEA and Irvine Foundations, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and Jerome Foundation. New works includes Cabinet of Wonder: An Impossible Story, which recently ran at Open Eye Figure Theatre in Minneapolis (also produced by Gas and Electric Arts, Philadelphia), Raskol (commissioned and produced by Ten Thousand Things Theatre and featured on several critics' end-of-year lists), and Modern House, finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburne Prize.
Hayley Finn (director) is the Resident Director and Lab Producer at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. She has directed and developed new work at the Walker Art Center, the Public Theater, the Cherry Lane Theatre and Edinburgh Fringe Festival, South Coast Repertory, the Kitchen, and the Vineyard Theatre. She has received the Ruth Easton Directing Fellowship, the Drama League Director's Fellowship, and the TCG New Generations Future Leader Grant.
Craig Harris (composer and music director) has created works for concert performance, music theater and performance art, dance, video, multimedia and art installation. His electro-acoustic work, The Hill Has Something to Say, commissioned by soprano Renée Fleming, premiered in 2000 at Lincoln Center. Harris' multimedia oratorio Five Books - First Series was commissioned and produced by the Sabes JCC Center for Jewish Arts and Humanities in 2008. He has been awarded grants from the Jerome Foundation and the Hanson Institute for American Music, and received his Ph.D from Eastman School of Music.
Lisa Peschel, PhD (dramaturg) has been researching theatrical performance in the Terezín ghetto since 1998. In 2008 she published a bilingual Czech-German edition of eleven plays written in the ghetto that came to light during her research (the English-language edition is forthcoming in summer 2011). Currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard, she is preparing a study of Czech, German and Zionist cabarets in the ghetto.