Laughter and Theatre as a Response to Genocide by Lisa Peschel. One of sixteen fifteen-minute talks being held during Yorktalks: a day of inspirational short talks about the world-leading research happening at the University of York. Free tickets available here
Drawing on the direct testimony of prisoners in the Jewish ghetto at Terezín (in German, Theresienstadt), Dr Lisa Peschel reveals how comedy and cabaret were key to their survival.
Coupling her interviews with the recovery of songs and other dramatic texts created in the ghetto, her research provides deep insights into the ways in which these cabaret narratives helped those trapped in the ghetto to endure their imprisonment. Dr Peschel shows how this vibrant theatrical scene also helped the prisoners reclaim their right to interpret their own experiences. By trivialising even the most shocking events in comic performances, they resisted potentially debilitating fear and were able to carry on with the fight for life.