This week, the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies and Texas Performing Arts will be hosting a 3-day symposium called “Creativity in the Face of Death: The Contemporary Resonance of Terezín.” The symposium will include performances, panels, lectures, and a photography exhibition. A number of the events feature AMS Professor and Director of the Schusterman Center, Dr. Robert Abzug, as well as AMS affiliate faculty member Dr. Rebecca Rossen.
The following is a description of the event from the Schusterman Center’s website:
“Creativity in the Face of Death: The Contemporary Resonance of Terezín,” a three-day symposium, will explore the enduring influence of music and art created by prisoners at Terezín (Theresienstadt), the “model ghetto” near Prague designed by the Nazis as a sham showcase to mask their murderous campaign against Europe’s Jews. The inmates, mostly Jews from Germany and Czechoslovakia and among them many notable artists, writers, composers, and musicians, acted out their parts for unsuspecting visitors even as, in the shadow of death, they raised the spirits of their fellow prisoners. Only 12 percent of the 140,000 Jews originally sent to Terezín survived. Virtually all of the members of the artistic community perished in the death camps or at Terezín itself.
Their heroic example has served as a haunting challenge for later artists to create what Kafka declared books must be—“an axe for the sea frozen inside us.” “Creativity in the Face of Death: The Contemporary Resonance of Terezín” will bring together world-class musicians, dancers, choreographers, photographers, and scholars whose work has been touched by the legacy of Terezín.
The following events feature Dr. Abzug and Dr. Rossen in conversation with artists and scholars on the symposium theme:
Wednesday, October 10
Thursday, October 11
8:00 p.m. | Texas Performing Arts’ Bass Concert Hall
Spectrum Dance Theater’s The Theater of Needless Talents, an evening-long work choreographed by Donald Byrd, pays homage to the Jewish artists who, though imprisoned in Nazi death camps, managed to create, perform, and bring hope to themselves and fellow inmates. The work is a series of powerful and eloquent sequences comprising modern dance, theatrical vignettes, cabaret, and commentary drawn from the words of artists and others of the time. These searing and evocative segments resonate with the horror and the absurdity of the situation in which these artists found themselves. The dance is set to the music of composer and death camp victim Erwin Schulhoff. The Theater of Needless Talents strives to make connections between the Holocaust and present-day sufferings brought on by prejudice, oppression, and persecution.
More information and a complete schedule can be found here.