Playwright’s Notes – Hannah Moscovitch

Date posted: August 31, 2017

If a child has a life where cruelty has become the norm, what a powerful effect would be the memory of that person—perhaps the only one—who showed kindness, understanding and respect. The child’s future life and sense of his self could take a different course, knowing there was one person who would not fail him. Janusz Korczak

Heroes give their lives to something bigger than themselves. Heroes are those whose morality does not shift with their circumstances. Heroes have the shortest-lived careers.

Doctor Janusz Korczak, famed educator, pediatrician, children’s author and the founder of the Polish orphanage Our Home, believed in respecting children: respecting their griefs (no matter how small) and their personhood. He believed they had a right to love and the right to be imperfect. In the midst of the bleakest circumstances, in which all morality was being evacuated from the world and millions of people were being mass exterminated, Korczak fought for the children in his orphanage. Even as he watched his life’s work being obliterated by genocide and war, he fought for the dignity of children.

We were honored to work with the acclaimed violinist Sari Alesh on this project. Sari played with the Syrian Symphony National Orchestra for six years, and participated in numerous concerts and festivals internationally, including in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Sharjah, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Germany, and Italy. He immigrated to Canada from Syria (by way of Turkey) on February 9th, 2016. It has held us to a high standard to work with Sari because of his firsthand experience of war and displacement.

I’m grateful to the Belfry Theatre and in particular Michael Shamata for inviting us to work on The Children’s Republic in Victoria. Michael has been boundlessly generous and supportive, and his precision insights into the project and how to best tell this story have been extraordinary.

I’m also grateful for the participation of Zander Eke, Simeon Sanford Blades, Sophia Irene Coopman, and Lily Cave (who play Israel, Misha, Sara and Mettye) in this process. Over the course of a series of workshops as well as rehearsals, their insights and voices have helped shaped the script. Thank you also to the wonderful Paul Rainville, Kerry Sandomirsky, and the previous workshop actors.

The Children’s Republic was originally commissioned by the Great Canadian Theatre Company and Ottawa School of Speech and Drama to honour the now deceased Leon Gluzman, one of Janusz Korczak’s wards.