Los Angeles…February 25, 2013…The new performing arts department of Valley Torah High School’s girls division will present, for women only, “Dreams of Hope,” Sunday, March 10, at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the Salter Family Theater at Beverly Hills High School.
“Dreams of Hope” was inspired by “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” a one-woman play based on the book by Mona Golabek, The Children of Willesden Lane. The book and play chronicle Golabek’s mother’s experience as a participant in the Kindertransport during World War II. Golabek is a concert pianist, as was her mother, Lisa Jura, and her maternal grandmother, Malka Jura, who died in Auschwitz.
The play uses music as a vehicle to “celebrate the power and triumph of the children of the Kindertransport,” says Lisa Pietruszka, VTHS director of performing arts and author of the creative adaptation. “It’s about children facing adversity and through adversity being able to triumph.” Directed by Cindy Kania, the play features live classical piano music, dance and choral numbers. To inspire them for their own production, last September, VTHS invited the girls to a moving performance of “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” at the Geffen Theater in Westwood.
The Kindertransport was a rescue mission of nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Natzi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Free City of Danzig prior to the outbreak of the World War II. The Unites Kingdom took in the children and placed them in British foster homes, hostels, and farms. Some of them were the only members of their families who survived the Holocaust.
Introduced last fall, the VTHS performing arts department has five components: vocal music, dramatic arts, creative writing, dance (modern, jazz and ballet) and theatrical production. All the elective disciplines collaborated on this production. Pietruszka, a professional pianist and music teacher, designed and oversees the department. VTHS also has a thriving, award winning visual arts department. Both programs place a strong dual emphasis on fostering a love of the arts and teaching the girls life skills through the arts, such as collaboration, determination, presentation and self-confidence.