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"The Good and The True" Play Previews at the United Nations

Stories, written by life, are sometimes closer than we imagine. United Nations staff member Zvi Muskal, son of Jewish Holocaust survivors, recently shared his mother's story of survival. She was deported from Romania to Auschwitz Birkenau, the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940–1945). After liberation, she never wanted to discuss her traumatic experience. Instead, she always stressed the importance of looking forward and moving on, always careful not to waste food, a precious commodity in the camps. Now she is 90 and lives in Israel but her experience changed her forever. She prefers to stay close to home and tries to avoid darkness and dimly lit places.

Learning from the lessons of history has always been one of the pillars of the UN’s existence. It is not only important to build a safer and better world, but also to reflect on what humanity has achieved and where it has failed. Reminding us of the lessons of the Holocaust has been the mission of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme for nearly ten years. Its latest event, a preview of the Czech drama “The Good and the True” was held in partnership with the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the United Nations on 1 August 2014 in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library auditorium.  H.E. Mr. David Červenka, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, provided historical context for the play, explaining that most of the Czech Jews perished during the Holocaust. The manager of Švandovo Theatre in Prague, who directed and co-authored the play, Daniel Hrbek, introduced the performance. 


Actress Hannah Scott performs a scene from the Czech drama "The Good and The True"
at the United Nations on 1 August 2014. UN Photo / Devra Berkowitz

Once the play was underway, the audience was soon immersed in the lives of two survivors Hana Pravda and Miloš Dobrý, and made privy to their most intimate thoughts, fears and wishes, thanks to the brilliant performance of actors Hanna Scott and Saul Reichlin. Kimberly Mann, Manager of the Holocaust Programme moderated a follow up discussion with the actors, Executive Producer Brian Daniels, who also adapted the play into English, and Miloš Dobrý’s grandson, Petr Papoušek. In Papoušek’s view, anti-Semitism is still very alive in the world and the play helps to remind everyone that different social groups are still persecuted based on their race, religion or other status. “Art should be used to empower people without a voice, like my grandfather”, he said.

A dedicated volunteer for the UN Holocaust Programme since its inception in 2006, Zvi Muskal commented after the play: "Personal stories like we heard in the play 'The Good and The True' help people understand the impact that the Holocaust had on the victims’ lives. It’s important for people everywhere to understand the devastating consequences of hatred".

“The Good and the True” is being performed through 14 September 2014 at the Off-Broadway Theatre DR2. For more information, please visit www.goodandtrueplay.com.

 

 

Performing Actors:

Originally from the United Kingdom, Hannah Scott trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She regularly worked in both regional and London theatres including The Salisbury Playhouse and London Palladium. Hannah moved to New York to study at The Circle in The Square and since graduating has worked both regionally and in New York, Off-Broadway. TV and film credits include: “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Another Side of Brooklyn”, “Dark Haul” and “Seven Sins”. Hannah is regularly heard in the animated voice over series “Drakers”, in the role of Suzy.

Saul Reichlin is an award-winning actor, producer and director whose one man play Sholom Aleichem has been performed in the West End, on Broadway and in most major European countries. He has won numerous awards for his audio book voice over work and is the narrator of more than 50 TV documentaries. Before training at the Central School of Speech and Drama, he practiced law for five years in South Africa and London. Saul is also the Artistic Director of Lone Star Theatre Company and lives in London.

Holocaust Survivors:

Hana Pravdová (also known as Hana Pravdá) was born Hana Becková in Prague on 29 January 1916. She studied drama and first performed at the Olomouc Theatre. Her career includes Leningrad’s Great Drama Theater in 1937, Kladno Theatre in 1938 and guest performances at the Vinohrady Theatre, the National Theatre, and the Švandovo Theatre. During this time, she also created several films but her promising career was interrupted by the Second World War. Hana was first transported to Terezín and later to Auschwitz-Birkenau. At the war’s end she managed to escape from a death march while most of her family perished in the Holocaust. In 1945, she returned to the Švandovo Theatre. In 1949, Hana emigrated to Australia and later settled in London, where she was active in film, theatre, and television. Besides acting, Hana worked as a director at small London theatres. She died in London on 22 May 2008. Her granddaughter actress Isobel Pravdá was originally scheduled to perform during preview at the United Nations but was unable to due to a delayed visa.

Miloš Dobrý was born Miloš Gut in Prague on 31 January 1923. After Bohemia and Moravia were declared a German protectorate, he was expelled from school because of his Jewish background. In November 1941, he was sent on the first transport to Terezín as part of the camp’s Aufbaukommando (“construction commando”). His parents and brother Josef were transported to the camp in 1942. Here, he met his future wife Zuzana Beckmannová. In December 1943, Miloš was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and in July 1944 he was moved to a labour camp in Schwarzheide. Later, he and his brother Josef survived a death march while his parents and almost all his relatives died in concentration camps. Miloš passed away on 23 November 2012. His grandson Petr Papoušek is now the Chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Czech Republic.