Sophia and Olivia Colden Perform in the Play Terezin: Children of the Holocaust in Cuba

The Colden family enjoyed an incredible experience over March break, traveling to Cuba so sixth grader Sofia and eighth grader Olivia could perform in the play Terezin: Children of the Holocaust. The play tells the story of six children imprisoned in a cell in a concentration camp during the last two days before they are transported to Auschwitz.

Kristen and Daryl Colden shared their reactions. “The experience was unbelievable,” Daryl said. “It seemed as if the people in Cuba could relate to this topic, especially in comparison to some of their own life experiences. The play started conversations about hate crimes and what’s going on in the world around us today. The trip was also eye opening for the girls and for all of us, to experience what it’s like to live in a place so different from our own and with very limited resources. Visiting Cuba is really like stepping back in time.” Kristin added, “People commented on how great it was to bring the arts to Cuba.”

Newburyport playwright Anna Smulowitz directs the play and is responsible for bringing the production to Cuba. She is the daughter of two Auschwitz survivors, and the play is a tribute to her many relatives who died in the Holocaust. Terezin has toured schools and theatres in the US and internationally for over forty years. "We're probably one of the first groups to do this," said Smulowitz, who accompanied 15 student actors from schools throughout the North Shore to the city of Havana to perform the one-act play, which was very well received.

Asked how the venture became a reality, Smulowitz said the play's title got noticed by a Havana synagogue member, whose grandparents perished at the Terezin concentration camp outside of Prague. Tens of thousands of Jews lived in Cuba before the Communist Revolution took place in 1959. The revolution led to more than 90 percent of the Jewish population leaving the country. The play is also about treating others the way you want to be treated, a message echoed and often discussed at GUS.

Whitney Buckley