A play about a young Scottish woman who died in Auschwitz in 1944 will be performed on Friday 30 March and Saturday 31 March in Theatre at Queens at 170 Queen’s Drive, on Glasgow’s Southside. It tells the true story of Jane Haining who was matron of a home for orphaned girls in Budapest. Run by the Church of Scotland, the home was a safe haven until the Nazis moved into the city. At that point she was ordered to return to Scotland but she twice refused as she knew it would leave her children defenceless. The result was the Gestapo imprisoned her and eventually killed her in the death camp.
She had worshipped at Queen’s Park Parish Church in Glasgow and that congregation installed two stained glass windows to remember her and her sacrifice. They also play host each year to the school aged winners of a competition in English speaking which is run in Budapest in her memory.
When Tram Direct founder Isobel Barrett moved her theatre school into community space at Queen’s Park Church, she heard the story of the windows and of Jane Haining’s dedication to her children. She commissioned Ian Morland to write a play of the moving story.
‘It is true to the facts and quite harrowing in parts,’ said Isobel. ‘But everyone is glad to have been a part of this.’
The play has been produced with the cooperation of South Glasgow Heritage and Environment Trust, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life and Glasgow Community Planning Partnership. An exhibition of Jane’s story will be on display at the church’s community hall during the run of the play.
A rare opportunity for people to learn the skills of the theatre is open right now with Theatre Ecole. Based in the Southside of Glasgow, the company has evolved from a youth and community group to a professional organisation – and registered charity – producing first class entertainment throughout the stage seasons.
The benefit to individuals is inestimable. But two of their graduates can tell their own success stories.
Garry Hogg joined the group in 2001 aged 14. Since then he has been an actor, tutor, stage manager, wardrobe assistant. Last year he took on the demanding role of Artistic Director for his first Pantomime.
Enthused by his leisure experiences, Garry gained his HND in acting and performance in 2008 and then his BA Honours in Performance for stage and film in 2010. Last summer he went global when he taught Drama and Directed numerous shows at Camp Taconic, a summer camp in Massachusetts in the United States. Garry says that: ‘Without the experience, training and support gained at Theatre École, I wouldn’t have the confidence or skills to be the person I am today or have had so many good experiences.’ Garry plans to continue working with young people and looks forward to Theatre École’s summer musical.
Michelle Gallagher joined the group in 2004 and showed great talent when cast as the Queen of Hearts in her very first Pantomime. She went on to play challenging roles such as Jinty, the Dame and Glinda the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz. Michelle gained her B.ED in 2010 and is now a successful primary school teacher. She said: ‘Being part of Ecole helped me realise that I enjoy working with children and gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams. I use a lot of what I learned at drama when teaching the children.’
Several other members who joined École have successfully gained their HND in Acting and Performance and have toured England and Scotland in various productions including Theatre in Education.
Commented Founder Isobel Barrett: ‘Being part of Theatre École breeds success for the future as can be seen from Garry and Michelle’s stories. The arts are a resource for overall development of the individual; fostering self-confidence, citizenship, creativity and decision-making as well as other life skills.’ She emphasised that not everyone aims to become a stage professional – many enjoy the Theatre Ecole experience as a life-enhancing hobby.
She extends the invitation to anyone aged from 9 to 26 who would like to become a part of the team for the June musical, to sign up for classes starting on Wednesday 18 January. There is also a job going with the company as a drama tutor/creative assistant involved with various aspects of work including webdesign.
Theatre Ecole headquarters and performance space is at Theatre at Queen’s within the Queen’s Park Parish Church complex and their website is: www.theatre-ecole.org.uk or www.facebook.com/theatreecole or tel 0141 423 6037.