EVENTS | By Hannah Prozenko
What is it like to write a play? Should you narrate every little detail or leave everything up to the audience? Emil Sher answered these questions and more during his walkthrough presentation to Dartmouth High School students about the creative process used for writing a play. Emil used his piece of theatrical art, Hana's Suitcase (based off the non-fiction book by Karen Levine), to give the students an example of different kinds of artistic details found in a play.
The piece itself centres around two students who are part of the Small Wings group founded by Fumiko Ishioka. Ishioka is a Japanese schoolteacher who uncovered a thread that connected modern-day bullying to the Nazi regime. She created Small Wings with the aim of "further promoting the history of the holocaust and learning so it is never repeated."
The two students beg Ishioka for an artifact from the holocaust and, after asking multiple museums, she is finally sent one item, a suitcase with the name Hana Brady written on the lid. This suitcase sparks an adventure to unlock the mystery, and history, behind Hana Brady and the devastating effects of the holocaust.
Sher's presentation allowed DHS students to see the horror of the holocaust through a child's viewpoint.
He gave students the opportunity to interact with the presentation by allowing them to read excerpts from historical letters and ludicrous laws created by the Nazis and ask questions along the way.
From the type of font used for the names of holocaust victims to why he ended a video clip of Hana when he did, Sher used every tiny detail to add hidden symbolism and secret messages for the audience to find and unravel. Sher gave the audience a chance to step into his creative mind and explore the secret hidden meanings placed casually in every scene.
This presentation had the atmosphere of a quiet conversation in a coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon. Sher held the entire audience's attention and kept them intrigued, striking an emotional chord in the hearts of all who heard the story of Hana Brady. Sher left his audience wanting badly to see his play as well as wanting to discover and create their very own artistic gems.