Contributed by Auriane Desombre, Spring 2017 Communications Apprentice
As Nivelli's War
begins its New Victory run, we're really looking forward to sharing the story of Ernst and Mr. H with our New York City audiences. In the play, the mysterious Mr. H, a concentration camp survivor, escorts Ernst, a young German evacuee, back to the boy's hometown. Their journey and the friendship they forge make for a compelling story that stays with you. We asked a few of our staff members why this show is not to be missed.
Lauren Hood, our Artistic Programming Manager, was deeply affected by the cross-cultural friendship that develops between Ernst and Mr. H. The unlikely story of a young German boy befriending a Jewish man, Nivelli's War
explores the complicated idea of forgiveness and trust in a dangerous world. "Especially in times when things are very uncertain, in times of great sorrow and tragedy, we can still find one another," she says.
Allison Mui Mitchell and Christopher Ritz-Totten
"They cut through all those layers of fear and hate and still form a friendship," agrees Education Programs Manager Christopher Ritz-Totten. "I think that's very inspiring."
Mr. H is based on a real-life magician, named Herbert Levin—or "The Great Nivelli"—who survived Auschwitz-Birkenau by performing magic for Nazi soldiers. Known as the "Magician of the Holocaust," his talent for entertaining is likely the thing that saved his life. Realizing this, he did his best to teach what he knew to others, in hopes that they too, might be spared.
The different meanings of the word "magic" captured the imagination of Allison Mui, Director of Public Relations. "You can think about magic in a couple of different ways. There's the actual art form, the practice of magic," she says. "But there's also the magic of meeting people unlike yourself, and finding a common connection. Nivelli’s War
celebrates this magic of friendship—believing in each other and holding each other up."
The magic of Nivelli's War
stuck with Christopher even after the final curtain fell. "It's about finding joy in the darkest times in our lives. Magic, intrinsically, is joy."
While the action of the final days of the war largely remains offstage, it haunts Ernst and Mr. H throughout their journey together. "It's a great introduction to the history of the time," Lauren says. "Because the show doesn't tell you outright all the details of the war, leaves you with questions that can be great conversation starters for you and your kids."
Kevin Bradley Jr. and Lauren Hood
Public Relations Associate Kevin Bradley agrees that the show offers families a perfect foundation to start important conversations about history. "I love to leave the theater inspired to dig into the story. When you see Nivelli's War
, you definitely leave with a desire to learn more about WWII," he says. "It's a show that will spark an important conversation."
Though Nivelli's War
takes place after the war has ended, the journey that Ernst and Mr. H take is fraught with danger. The obstacles facing the pair may seem insurmountable, but, as Lauren says, they "help each other and lift each other up throughout their journey, as they try and find their way home."
"It's a play about two human beings who are lost," says Christopher. "A story about perseverance, love, friendship and going home." Join us to find out how Ernst and Mr. H's journey unfolds.
||Bring your family, and experience the magic of friendship with Nivelli's War. Tickets are on sale today!
||Auriane Desombre studies English at NYU, where she's wrapping up her senior year with an honors thesis. Outside of her classes, she reviews theater for Stagebuddy, and has written for Cracked and Urbanette. Her favorite writing collaboration thus far, though, would be the time Lin-Manuel Miranda replied to one of her tweets.