Theatrical Depictions of Survivor Stories
USC Shoah Foundation and National Jewish Theater Foundation Collaborate to Launch ‘This is What I’ve Scene,’ First Ever Theater-Related Activity To Be Provided to Students Worldwide Via IWitness Website
Los Angeles, Dec. 8, 2015 – USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education and the National Jewish Theater Foundation and its Holocaust Theater International Initiative have developed a new theater-based activity for the Institute’s IWitness website that guides secondary students to develop historical narrative monologues using testimonies of Holocaust survivors, witnesses and liberators.
Called “This is what I’ve ‘Scene’: Theatrical Depictions of Survivor Stories,” the activity was authored by the National Jewish Theater Foundation, which celebrates creativity and preserves Jewish culture in the performing arts.
Using the activity, students will construct a monologue, and learn how to dramatically enhance their presentation by creating and staging tableaus, which give the monologue added visual interest and help to illuminate the stories.
Arnold Mittelman, the National Jewish Theater Foundation’s producing artistic director, (and NJTF consultant Mira Hirsch, artistic associate and director of education for Theatrical Outfit, Atlanta) worked with USC Shoah Foundation’s Education Department to create the new activity. Mittelman, a director, producer and educator who has created almost 300 diverse plays, musicals and special events, helped found or lead five major nonprofit theaters. In 2007, he was named president and producing artistic director of the National Jewish Theater Foundation, which celebrates and preserves Jewish culture in the performing arts.
“The National Jewish Theater Foundation through its Holocaust Theater International Initiative remembers and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust using theater related research, education and production,” Mittelman said. “Theater in all its manifestations can and must provide a moral compass for future generations. We are proud to provide to IWitness the creative resource ‘This is What I’ve Scene’ and other future activities that have the capability of achieving that goal.”
Now used in all 50 states and 60 countries, IWitness was developed by USC Shoah Foundation to connect secondary school students with the audio-visual testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides in its Visual History Archive to motivate them to do their part to build a better world.
According to research, students’ interest in helping others increased by up to 28 percent after they engaged with IWitness. According to research, students reported up to a 28 percent increase in an interest in helping others after they engaged with IWitness. They also reported a 30 percent improvement in their critical thinking skills. In all, 72 percent of students surveyed said they benefitted from using IWitness.
IWitness, which is a free program, provides teachers with an array of student-centered activities designed to engage multiple literacies, across disciplines from civics, government and history to poetry, art and ethics. Educators can tailor lessons appropriate for their classrooms.
IWitness aligns with Common Core standards and was named as one of the “Top 25 Websites for Teaching and Learning” by the American Association of School Librarians in 2012.
“We’re excited about working with the National Jewish Theater Foundation on this new activity,” said USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Kori Street. “They bring an expertise in the performing arts that matches perfectly with our work in educating young people about being responsible citizens.”