Graphic Illustration made in Canva by August Moss.
Graphic Illustration made in Canva by August Moss.

“Something more serious”

Drama department presents “The Spirit of Life,” a collection of testimonies from Holocaust survivors

The McIntosh Drama program competes annually in the Georgia High School Association Regional One Act Competition. After putting on a comedic style show for the past two years with 2021’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and 2022’s “Losers: Winners Edition,” this year’s one act takes on a different tone.

This year’s one act is entitled “The Spirit Of Life,” a collection of testimonies from “The Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust” by Yaffa Eliach and David F. Eliet to show how the spirit of life survives even in the darkest of times. 

Although auditions for the play happened in mid-Aug., this show has been in the works since April of 2023. The decision process started with McIntosh Drama teacher Ken Buswell thinking over his wants for the show vs. the cast’s wants.

Theatrical poster for “The Spirit of Life” designed by Addy Blair (11).

I wanted something more serious, since we have done comedies the past two years. It seemed like the likely cast wanted something serious as well. I also wanted a show that gave some flexibility in the size of the cast,” Buswell said. 

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That show, and others, were brought to student attention when it was presented back in May 2023 for the Advanced Drama class to review. One of these shows was “Bang Bang You’re Dead,” by William Mastrosimone, about a school shooting perpetrator being tortured in his cell by the students he murdered. Audrey Johnson, a McIntosh graduate of 2023, was one of the students to read that play. 

“I thought [“Bang Band You’re Dead”] was a very real and serious picture of the state of high schools today, with the current state of gun laws and the continuous gun violence and shootings in the United States. I think the play didn’t sugarcoat the horror that kids in the United States can possibly face,” Johnson said.

Other students felt that “Spirit of Life” was also too precarious a subject.

“I didn’t think [“Spirit of Life”] was the right choice. I think [the Holocaust] is a touchy subject itself. I’m not saying that dark topics shouldn’t ever be performed, but I think it puts a damper on the ability of our great actors here. [However] I’m excited to see how the show will turn out,” senior Ava Thompson said. 

Since the play covers Jewish religious rituals, such as the Mikveh, Hanukkah, traditional Hebrew songs and Hebrew prayers, Buswell found it important that everything was well researched in order to remain respectful.

For the play specifically, I’ve done some reading and lots of time online, mainly at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum website, which has a huge amount of information and research. I met with a Hasidic Rabbi to get ideas for the play and to get a better understanding of Hasidism,” Buswell said. 

What are Mikveh and Hannukah?
Mikveh & Hannukah

 Mikveh, as defined by "The Spirit of Life" is a ritual bath of purification Hasidic Jewish women partake in.

Hanukkah, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, is a lesser Jewish festival, lasting eight days from the twenty-fifth day of Kislev (in December) and commemorating the rededication of the Temple in 165 BC by the Maccabees after its desecration by the Syrians. It is marked by the successive kindling of eight lights.

In the play, three languages are spoken: German, Yiddish and Hewbrew. English is a Germanic language, which makes it easier for those with English as a first language to speak. However, the cast has openly struggled with Hebrew.

“I enjoy learning Hebrew songs for “Spirit of Life” because I like to sing in different languages,” sophomore Alexandria McCormack said.

As rehearsals continued, the cast began to get more familiar with the script through memorization and acting the scenes out.

“I think [the play] will sound better once people know their lines and start getting into character,” junior Karina Nirenburg said. 

 From the technical side of things, the crew has already begun working on set pieces for the show. Junior Tess van den Hoonard, the stage manager, has been leading the crew in designing.

“The show is coming along quite well and I think we are setting up for a good year at competition,” Hoonard said.

The shows will be on Oct. 12 and 14, 2023 at 7 p.m. The cast will perform at the Georgia High School Association  Regional One Act Competition at Harris County High School on Oct. 28. 

As research and rehearsal continues, Buswell hopes the production will showcase what matters most.

The most important thing is that our performance honors those who suffered in the Holocaust,” Buswell said.

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About the Contributor
August Moss, Staff
August Moss is a first year Trail staffer and in her second year on the Legend yearbook staff, this year operating as senior editor. Moss is a Georgia REACH scholar. She served in the McIntosh theater department as stage manager for “Something Funny Happened On the Way to the Regional One Act Competition” and “Mamma Mia.” She served on crew for “She Kills Monsters” and “Footloose.” She acted in “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Very Still and Hard to See.” She was a Thespian Officer for the 2022-2023 school year. She was a volunteer member with the SAYA program for 2020-2021. She has served as a Sources Of Strength member since 2021 and this year she is a leader on the leadership team. Moss has many passions, but her faith trumps them all. You’ll find her singing in her church's worship band, serving in the children's ministry and always carries her bible full of notes with her.
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  • Audrey JohnsonOct 1, 2023 at 7:24 pm

    Amazing story!

  • Mel LorenteSep 29, 2023 at 1:52 pm

    Congrats on the Best of Sno award for your other story

  • Mel LorenteSep 29, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    Wonderful story, can’t wait to see the production.