Regent’s Year 11 GCSE Drama performs ‘Silent Witness’

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This year’s Year 11 GCSE Drama students performed a devised drama called Silent Witness in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the massacre of the inhabitants and destruction of the town of Lidice, Czechoslovakia, that took place in June 1942.

The five actors had to perform at least 3 characters each in the Unit 3 Performance exam which tested their acting skills to the limit as well as their understanding of how a piece of drama is meant to work on stage. The 40-minute play focused on two principal characters caught up in the almost unbearable horrors of that fateful day, perpetrated by the Nazis in response to the assassination of the brutal German ruler, Reinhard Heydrich.

Fern as Hanna, the conflicted wife of Karl.Fern as Hanna, the conflicted wife of Karl.

Vaclav Zuleka was, unbelievably, saved from the massacre of 82 of his childhood friends by the decision to bring him up as a German, simply because his blond hair made him look Aryan. In his performance Geoffrey Taylor managed to communicate his sense of confusion and guilt which was the product of his experience. Vaclav had to learn German and soon lost his sense of Czech identity which he had to regain at the end of the war as well as re-building his relationship with his mother who also miraculously managed to survive under Nazi occupation.

Yana and Mackenzie’s Lidice International Art Competition pieces.Yana and Mackenzie’s Lidice International Art Competition pieces.

The other main character played with huge emotional conviction by Julianne Dionisio was Miloslava Zelenka who somehow found the strength of will to live through the hell of Ravensbrook Concentration camp in Germany. Fern Maxwell gave depth and believability to the character of Hanna, the conflicted wife of Karl, also convincingly portrayed by Erik Bayanduryan. Vilyam Gregoryan made the smaller roles of the prison guard and inspector memorable in their control and attention to detail.

All in all, this play, created by the students themselves, provided an effective ensemble performance and reminded us of issues of racism and persecution which are still unhappily part of today’s world. This powerful performance was dedicated to the work of Amnesty International and will hopefully be repeated in a more refined platform version on the Amnesty Marathon Letter Writing Day.

GCSE Drama students performing “Silent Witness”.GCSE Drama students performing “Silent Witness”.

In tandem with the performance itself, the school has entered the 40th Lidice International Art Competition intended to raise awareness of the tragic events amongst today’s younger generation. Year 8 students Yana and Mackenzie created two beautiful and evocative pictures in response to this year’s theme, the Theatre. These will be sent to Lidice in open competition with the many hundreds of other art works received from all over the world.