The story of a forgotten Scottish heroine who was murdered in Auschwitz was told in powerful performances by Tram Direct at Theatre at Queens on Glasgow’s Southside this week.
The harrowing details of Jane Haining’s final days as matron of a Church of Scotland orphanage for Jewish girls in Budapest, were dramatically retold by professional and community actors in ‘To Serve is to Resist.’
Because she refused to leave ‘her girls’ she was arrested and died with them in the gas chambers of the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp.
The performances were even more poignant because Jane had worshipped in the very building where Tram Direct now has its headquarters and theatre space. The congregation of what is now called Queen’s Park Church of Scotland, installed two stained glass windows to remember Jane’s sacrifice and some of the current congregation took part in scenes in the play.
One of the cast was from Budapest and had known of Jane’s bravery. Aniko Szilagyi is currently working for her PhD at the University of Glasgow. She first visited Glasgow in 1999 as a winner of an English speaking competition run in Budapest as a living memorial to Jane Haining. Said Aniko: ‘It is strange taking part in this play. It is part of my history.’
The play was commissioned by Isobel Barret founder of Tram Direct who runs it and Theatre Ecole from their base within Queen’s. ‘When I heard the story of Jane Haining I commissioned Ian Morland to write this play. It was a story that just had to be told and it was right here on our doorstep.’
The first act tells of Jane’s determination to work abroad as a Christian missionary and how she achieves her dream on being appointed matron of the Budapest girls’ home.
The second act illustrates vividly how, despite her suffering throughout interrogations and in the death camp, she never lost her faith in God. Skilful use of original film footage of Hitler speaking, set the context of the time. Nine songs interspersed throughout the play added to the emotional response of the acting.
Those who watched the play were left with a profound sense of awe at Jane’s courage. ‘This deserves to be wider known and seen,’ said one member of the audience.
The play about Jane Haining’s life and death will be performed for the first time on Friday 30 March and twice on Saturday 31 March at Theatre at Queens, 170 Queen’s Drive, Glasgow. For tickets tel: 0141 423 6037 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or see website: www.tramdirect.com
An exhibition on Jane’s life will also be on display during the production and can be viewed during the interval when tea and coffee will be served.
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.
École Enterprise has the following vacancy funded under Community Jobs Scotland. All applicants must abide with the CJS eligibility criteria and apply via Job Centre Plus or Skill Development Scotland Advisor.
Drama Tutor/Creative Assistant
To assist with drama activities within workshop/training and production projects. To maintain and develop web pages with associated administrative duties.
École Enterprise is a Social Enterprise Business, has Scottish Charitable Status and is a Company Ltd by Guarantee. The company is based at Theatre at Queens, 170 Queen’s Drive and offers training in the Performing Arts to young people and to youth organisations. The youth theatre caters for 9-25 year olds. Some of the team are pictured above.