About this website
This website tracks the development of my research about theatrical performance in the Terezín/Theresienstadt ghetto that began in 1993 during my first long stay in the Czech Republic, gathered momentum while I was an MFA student in the playwriting program at the University of Texas at Austin (1998-2001), and culminated in a PhD from the University of Minnesota (2009). The project continues in the form of theatrical performances, publications, lectures and conference presentations (please see my blog on this website).
My research has resulted in three book-length works:
Lisa Peschel (ed.): Performing Captivity, Performing Escape: Cabarets and Plays from the Terezín/Theresienstadt Ghetto
(Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2011). More information at: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/P/bo11456202.html/
A revised and expanded English-language edition of the 2008 bilingual Czech-German anthology (see below). This edition features an expanded introduction (including essays on theater and resistance, the Jews of Vienna, Bohemia and Moravia, and the history of the ghetto), additional information on the plays and their authors that has come to light since the 2008 edition, and a stunning epilogue: a New Year's Eve sketch written by a Terezín/Theresienstadt prisoner after her deportation to the slave labor camp Oederan.
Lisa Peschel (ed.): Divadelní texty z terezínského ghetta / Theatertexte aus dem Ghetto Theresienstadt [Theatrical Texts from the Theresienstadt Ghetto],1941-1945
(Prague: Akropolis, 2008). More information at http://akropolis.info/terezin#aj/.
This bilingual Czech-German anthology presents eleven theatrical texts--cabaret songs and sketches, historical and verse dramas, puppet plays, a Purim-Spiel, etc.--that were written during World War II in the Terezín/Theresienstadt ghetto by Czechoslovak and Austrian Jews. The texts include previously unpublished works by recognized artists such as Dr. Leo Strauss and Hans Hofer as well as by authors who remain largely unknown--for example by Georg Kafka, a cousin of Franz Kafka. Each work is introduced by an essay about the author(s) and the context in which the play was written and performed, and the texts have been thoroughly annotated in collaboration with survivors of the ghetto to make the works accessible to today's readers, educators and theater artists.
Dissertation: "The Prosthetic Life: Theatrical Performance, Survivor Testimony and the Terezín Ghetto, 1941-1963"
Whenever political conditions in postwar Czechoslovakia allowed, Czech-Jewish survivors of the Terezín (Theresienstadt) ghetto testified to the social functions theatrical performance had served and the alternatives those embodied narratives had offered to what one survivor called the "amputated life" of the ghetto. Their narratives not only described performance but took on their own performative functions as survivors affiliated themselves with a form of social capital that retained its high value throughout decades of political upheaval: Czech-language theater.