Leb wohl, Schmetterling
(Farewell Butterfly)

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Genre: youth play by Dominique Caillat.

Prague 1942: A Czech Jewish family and several friends experience a last day as "free" people and are then deported to Terezin (the so-called "model-ghetto" used by the nazis for propaganda purposes and where, in particular, many artists, children and old people were sent, before their final trip to the death camps).

Farewell Butterfly plays in Terezin during World War II, a small military town north of Prague which the Nazis transformed into a huge camp for Jewish deportees on their way to Auschwitz. Terezin, partly disguised as a "model" ghetto for propaganda purposes also acquired the sad reputation of being a gathering camp for children and old people. In spite of the extreme misery of camp life - where up to 150 persons died every day from hunger, sickness and exhaustion - and the permanent fear of further deportation to the east, there was an explosion of artistic creativity among the prisoners: they wrote poems, composed and played music, performed plays, drew and painted - using culture and the arts to retain their mental strength and sense of dignity.  Meanwhile, the Jewish “self-administration” endeavoured to protect and educate the children, preparing them for a future that most of them would not live to see.

The play is an imaginary story based on archive documents as well as survivors’ statements and interviews. Most of the music, songs and poems in the play were composed or written by prisoners during their internment at Terezin or other concentration camps.

23 actors. Originally created by the members of the “Theater in der Vorburg”, under Dominique Caillat’s direction.

Length: aprox. 2h 15.

Soundtrack with music composed in the camps, in particular Terezin.

Farewell Butterfly opened on November 22nd 1997 at Burg Namedy and was a tremendous success. The production has been seen in many ventures in Germany, as well as in the Czech Republic (invited by the Theatre Institute of Prague and the Terezin Initiative), and in Israel (invited by the City of Tel Aviv, the Organization of German-Speaking Immigrants in Jerusalem and Kibbutz Hazorea), where it was highly acclaimed. The last performance took place on January 26, 1999 in the old German Parliament (Bundestag) in Bonn on the occasion of the Memorial Day for the victims of National-Socialism. The production is winner of the 1998 Youth Cultural Price of Rhineland-Palatinate. Farewell Butterfly was revived for the "Nine Gates International Festival of Jewish Culture" 2000, with performances in Prague and Pilsen.


“Dominique Caillat: heroine of stage pedagogy... Precise, energetic and unwavering... All-out performance.”
(Die ZEIT no.15/2. April 1998)

Leb wohl, Schmetterling - a great achievement of the performers - for the audience a profound experience... Extraordinary poetic moments... The humorous interruptions are never just funny but always deeply moving as well, being an expression of unsatiable joy and desire to live.”
(Radio SWF 4 Blickpunkt)

“A well-written play, excellently built drama... A piece of theatre and at the same time a unique and outstanding lesson of history... The theatre crafts are perfectly put to use... The performers play as only children can, without prejudice, with unknowing naivety, and precisely because of this with such frankness and directness that the effect is overwhelming.”
(Radio S2 Kultur Aktuell)

“The actors succeed, thanks to an enormous power of expression and great depth of performance, to bring to life and relay the atmosphere of the ghetto, the permanent swaying between hope and despair, between the will to live and the loss of it... Dominique Caillat brings this very difficult theme most sensitively and nonetheless uncompromisingly on the stage, without ever falling into triviality. The young actors brilliantly succeed to convey emotion, without falling into the pits of exaggerated sentimentality - thanks, obviously, to a most careful preparation and study of the past... Recognition for a brilliant performance but also gratefulness towards a new, different generation of young Germans.”
(Israel News, Jerusalem)

“This is a play which recounts the German crimes by telling about the victims’ love of life... Human pain is a pervading theme but the real subject of the play is resistance, survival and hope of a future in spite of all the suffering. In the midst of the camp: education, music, theatre, games and a great tragic love... German children play in 1997 Jewish fates during world war II. The grandchildren confront the past with an intensity which one hopelessly awaited from many Germans after the war.”
(Rheinzeitung Feuilleton)

“I found the play very, very good. This is hard to believe, because the subject is so difficult. I have seen a number of plays on this theme already but I find that no other is quite as good as this one.”
(Radio Prague (German programme) and Austrian Radio (ORF), Interview with Eva Herrmannová, former Director of the Prague National Theatre)

“A shattering, exhilarating, sober, stirring, sad and overwhelming story about the Terezin ‘cultural ghetto’, emotionnally and professionnally performed on stage by the young actors.“
(KulturInfo Koblenz)

“Fascinating playing from the young actors, as one nowadays seldom experiences in the theatre“... “Devastating play about the persecution of the Jews“... “Unbelievable intensity“... “The viewing of Schindler's List is recommended for youths: that of Leb wohl, Schmetterling should be mandatory.“
(Rheinzeitung regional Mayen/ /Koblenz/ Andernach)

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