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Home Events Current & Upcoming Details - Children Show: Never Saw Another Butterfly


Children Show: Never Saw Another Butterfly
11.12.2010 - 11.14.2010 07.30 h - 09.00 h
The Katzen Arts Center - Washington


 American University students, under the direction of Gail Humphries Mardirosian, will present the musical I Never Saw Another Butterfly from November 12-14 at the Katzen Arts Center in the Studio Theater. 

Children's Show:I Never Saw Another Butterfly    
Directed by Gail Humphries Mardirosian; Music Director: Jonathan Tuzman 
November 12, 7:30-9 pm | November  13, 10:30 am-noon | November 13, 2 pm-3:30 pm | November 14, 2-3:30 pm     

About the show: More than 15,000 Jewish children passed through the ghetto of Terezín, and only about 100 were still alive when Terezín was liberated at the end of World War II. These few returned to the scattered pieces of their lives, their homes, and their families. Raja lived through it all at Terezín, teaching the children when there was nothing to teach with, helping to give them hope when there was little reason for hope. This musical is her inspirational and uplifting story of triumph over adversity, an imaginative creation from documentary materials: poems, diaries, letters, journals, drawings, and pictures. This show is targeted for students in the fifth to eighth grades.

The Katzen Arts Center, Studio Theater, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016-8053
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at


Performing Arts Professor Gail Humphries Mardirosian works extensively as an activist presenting theatre that risks representation and provides a catalyst for thinking, giving voices to the thousands of Jews that suffered at Terezín during the Holocaust.

She helped develop the Voices of Terezín initiative on campus and now expands awareness into the larger D.C. community through a musical performance ofI Never Saw Another Butterfly, which runs Nov. 12–14 in Katzen Studio Theatre.

The play, written by Celeste Raspanti, is based on the book I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a collection art and poetry created by children at Terezín, a ghetto near Prague that held Jewish captives. Named after a poem by Pavel Friedman, the play is a fictional musical based on true events about a teacher that defies her circumstances and helps children cope with captivity by making art and poetry.

While developing this emotional and compelling musical, Mardirosian and her students also joined outreach initiatives to share their performance with local youth in surrounding elementary and middle schools, focusing on 4th – 7th graders. They prepared students to see special performances of the play by developing eight workshops, using art, sign language, and other techniques, to educate students about the social injustices that took place at Terezín.

“One 7th grade student said she was nervous [to see the play] because she knows it will make her sad, but she thinks it’s important to see it,” says Mardirosian. Along with the workshops, students and Mardirosian created a study guide that teachers can share with their students to prepare them further. The students learn key words and concepts associated with Terezín and the Holocaust before seeing I Never Saw Another Butterfly, allowing them to get a more meaningful understanding from the play afterwards.

“I would not want to present this particular play to younger children,” says Mardirosian. “It’s such a harsh message, but it’s an important one.” She stresses the value of reaching middle school students with the play, as many of the children featured in the book and play are from their own age group. “I think it can really speak to them deeply,” she says.

The creative process of the play, and the university student’s work has astounded Mardirosian. “There have been moments when the cast and I have cried. There’s a song at the end that impacts me deeply. We are reminded of the loss and waste that Terezin represents, juxtaposed to the art that still provides a witness across time. There’s much personal resonance for me in the lyrics of the final song."

Mardirosian travelled to Terezín three times and plans to go back again this Spring. Each time she goes, she says she experiences a cycle of emotions that eventually leave her feeling empowered. “It’s my obligation as a professor of humanities to generate difficult dialogue around important ethnical issues,” she says.

Through theatre, she hopes to provoke thought around this difficult subject that raises issues of great relevance today. “I really believe the arts can engender difficult dialogue. If we sit in the fire and reckon, it can challenge us to make difficult connections and ultimately act upon them as voices of reminder and truth are represented."

Take care,
Mary E. Fetzko
Public Relations Specialist
Cultural Section
Embassy of the Czech Republic
3900 Spring of Freedom Street, NW
Washington, DC 2008
Phone: 202.274.9105





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