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OPUS Theatre takes centre stage on Holocaust Memorial Day

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The OPUS Theatre Company, formed by Long Road Sixth Form College Performing Arts students and their teachers Wendy Frost and Nadine Slade, took centre stage at Cambridge Corn Exchange last Sunday evening.

The group was invited to contribute to this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration, working with Cambridge City Council and schools and community groups to remember victims of the Holocaust and genocides across the world.

Students from the theatre company, who are studying on the College’s high-performing BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Performing Arts, performed their moving and thought-provoking devised performance on the theme of Journeys in front of a packed audience in the city venue. Wendy Frost, Course Team Leader, explains:

“The OPUS Theatre group members were particularly touched by the plight of the children who were taken from their families and homes to flee to safety.  We explored the Kindertransport and how many children were saved along with the fact that some of the trains full of people never reached a safe destination, and the passengers were taken to their deaths.  We had a ten-minute slot and wanted to use Physical Theatre and Ensemble performance techniques to fit the size of the stage and the space.  The children went through a journey of removal from their homes to fear and uncertainty at a packed train station, days of travelling on a train, and then the arrival at their destination.  Four of the children arrived with hope and were collected by families at the end of their journey.  Four children were delivered to the wrong destination and to their deaths.  Our story very much explored their point of view and their feelings about this massive upheaval and terrifying removal from their safe loving homes, to a complete unknown and foreign final destination.”

The piece formed part of a programme including contributions from speakers from Rwanda, students from Sawston Village College and an address from Ruth Barnett, who came to Britain as part of the Kindertransport before World War II.

The Mayor of Cambridge, Councillor Paul Saunders, introduced the event with these words:

“Holocaust Memorial Day provides us with an opportunity to honour survivors but it is also a chance to look to our own lives and communities today.  This year the focus is on journeys – physical ones from freedom to destruction and from flight to rescue, and journeys of discovery and understanding.  Today is a day of hope that the dearest wish of Holocaust survivors be achieved:  ‘Never Again’.”

Photograph:

Bobby Ford | www.littledc.co.uk