Students Perform a Play About Refugees

Students performing Alertez! (Photo via France-Amérique)

Students at the Boerum Hill School for International Studies, working with the French theater troupe L’Oiseau Bleu, are putting on a play, “Alertez!” (Alert!), that draws on the story of an ocean liner, carrying more than 900 German Jews fleeing the Nazis, that was turned away from ports in Cuba, the U.S. and Canada in 1939. The ship eventually returned to Europe, where about one-quarter of its passengers eventually died in concentration camps. The students aim to dramatize the plight of refugees and, at their June 17 performance scheduled for Washington Square Park, to raise money for the International Rescue Committee.

Elise Quinio, in an article in France-Amérique translated from French by Alexander Uff, writes about how the theater group worked with students at the school to create the play, which was originally performed at the Première Scène theatre festival at the Lycée Français in New York last January, and won the Special Jury Prize.

“We wanted to use this play to show the real and often tragic consequences of refusing to welcome refugees,” says Stéphanie Fribourg, founder of the troupe and director of the play. “The fate of refugees is a very current theme. We are experiencing the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II, and we must not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

A performance was held on June 6 at Brooklyn Borough Hall. At the June 17 performance, students will participate in a talk-back with audience members. To watch a video of the 12- and 13-year-olds in performance, go to France-Amérique.

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