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Carrie Robbins – “FOR THE LOST CHILDREN OF PARIS” (“A La Memoire Des Enfants Perdus”)



    History-1942-45: Nazis, with help from the Vichy Government, collected French-Jewish schoolchildren and delivered them to Auschwitz. Excellent German record-keeping revealed 11,400 children taken. At the liberation, 200 found alive. This is the story of one classroom’s collection day and its aftermath.

    In 2020 the Pandemic gave me license to NOT leave my studio. I unearthed a rare book by a French writer who’d found manifests of these exact children! He wrote to every family, explained he was making a Memorial book of the children. Did anyone have ANY picture of a child “before”? Pictures poured in. Children holding their favorite doll, pet or book. Extraordinary. 1822 pages of photos. I started sketching “from life”.

    Soon I needed Kleenex. I stopped. Started the next day. No different. The book chronicled happy children, all dead now. I wondered: Would a play filled with children who are dead by final curtain be watchable?

    That Fall, Lincoln Center announced performances of the Bunraku tragedy “LOVE SUICIDES AT SONEZAKI”. Seeing the performance, I realized that French schoolchildren could be ‘Bunraku-esque’. Dressed in authentic outfits of their 1940s childhoods, they would look like real children. Exquisite, hand-crafted puppet children playing out their tragedy just as the Japanese did. Realistic, but not real; less painful to watch.

    I started drafting children’s anatomy to build the puppets realistically. This is rare among puppets. We did a ZOOM Reading (2021) with wonderful responses! I liked ZOOM’s
    closeups & long-shot backgrounds.

    I added a friend on saw, the saw being the closest to the sound of the human voice.
    Beautiful and rare.

    And while I wrote, the TV in my studio screamed:

    • THEATRE IN So. UKRAINE, becomes bombshelter for kids. “Children” in Cyrillic letters painted on the building, legible from planes, now rubble.
    • OUR SOUTHERN BORDER, a boy dropped over a fence screaming: “!No me dejes!
      Estoy completamente solo. Porfavooorrrrrr….”

    Maybe now is the rare time when events like these are part of our normal newscycle, and maybe
    a play like mine, which tells true events from 78 years ago, can have a purpose for today.

    Production Credits

    ZOOM (June 15-16 & 21-24 & 27-29, 2022)
    Filmed on w. 88th st. (June 22-27 2022)
    Edited together for KristalLNacht (Nov 9-10 2022)

    Playwright – Carrie Robbins
    Based on history – especially 1942 through 1944 – beginning in Paris

    Incidental music & underscoring by Scott Munson with Munson on piano; sawplayer Natalia Paruz

    Puppet Director – Clint J. Hromsco

    Costume Design – Carrie Robbins
    Puppet Artisan
    – Bea Chung Ore (Peru)
    Puppet Camp Uniform Draper – Janell Berte
    Scene Design – Robbins w. Jenne Vath (for mise en scenes – Prologue & Coda)
    Cinematography, Lighting Design, Sound Design – Alex Jurgenston
    Editor – Sophia Coscia

    Technical Director – Christopher Stratis (& computer consultant)

    Actors featured in Photos

    Narrator & Jakob – Gregory Marlow
    Mlle. Brigitte, the Students’ Teacher – Stephanye Dussud (France)
    Genevieve – Geraldine Dulex (Switzerland)
    Solange – Mary Lou Barber
    The Dollmaker & Sabine – Jenne Marie Vath
    Lieutenant Karl (12 yrs. in Germany-fluent) – Jenny Lee Mitchell
    Warm Voices – Paul Hecht & Jennifer Van Dyck
    Directing Consultant – Joseph R. Sicari

    Photographers – Richard Termine, Emily Hewitt Photography, Ken Howard

    Calligrapher – Eleanor Winters