The story is set in Nazi occupied Amsterdam, 1943. Two young Dutch women, Hester and Pauline, risk their lives to save Jewish children imprisoned in a former nursery. Through their combined efforts, they rescue 80 children. In that same period both women meet the loves of their lives. This deeply personal performance is the true story of Karel Baracs’ parents’ lives during World War II.
Tram Line 8 plays a dramatic role in the history of Amsterdam. Until 1942, two Jewish neighborhoods were connected by this tram. After the Jews had been officialy banned from all public transport, this tram line lost most of its customers. Eventually, the lack of passengers was the official reason for cancellation (1942). Even so, the tram was still employed at the time of the Nazi raids on homes in 1942 and 1943.
After the Jewish Amsterdammers had been taken forcibly from their homes, they were transported by Tram 8 to the “Dutch Theatre.” This former theater located in the Plantage Middenlaan was designated by the Germans as a way station. The Jews were brought together here, before they were transported by train to the extermination camps.
The City of Amsterdam and the Local Transport Company decided – long after the war – that a tram line 8 would never run again. It was a symbolic gesture made in honour of the lost Jewish people of Amsterdam.
Theme : World War II, persecution of the Jews, racism and discrimination
Duration : 75 minutes
Target group : adults and children 11 years or older
Audience size : unlimited / depending on the venue
Curriculum Notes: available on demand
Costs for performance and curriculum : on request
Language: The story can be told in either English or Dutch
Location: Requires a small meeting hall (provided by the organization) or theater setting. Props required are only a chair and a table, as well as a few pieces of 1940s era decor.
Musical arrangement: piano & clarinet
The performance was developed in close collaboration with the Dutch Resistance Museum.
Karel Baracs, official city storyteller of Amsterdam, was inducted as a member of the House of Orange, one of the highest honors for a civilian in the Netherlands.
He has performed in London, The Verzetsmuseum of Amsterdam, the Stadsschouwburg (City Theater of Amsterdam) and Amsterdam City Hall.
In 2013, the feature-length documentary, “The Storyteller of Amsterdam,” directed by Eli Brown and produced by Burst Films LLC, was released to festivals. It is now available for distribution internationally for broadcast.
“The Storyteller of Amsterdam” follows the first (and only) city storyteller of Amsterdam through the final year of his city-sponsored contract in 2010. Shortly before his contract began, the world economy collapsed, dooming his tenure. In the shadow of the faltering economy, Karel Baracs, works to connect communities through the act of storytelling. He works with parents at a school to help them perform on stage and deliver personal narratives that help connect them to the community and the other parents at the school. He prepares a group of storytellers for the international SAIL festival. He delivers his most well-known story, “Why Tram Line 8 No Longer Runs” to an audience at City Hall, as well as other performances. All of his actions help bring the power of personal narrative storytelling to a wider audience and show that sometimes the simplest act of telling your story is the most powerful one that a person can do.
The Storyteller of Amsterdam was produced by Burst Films LLC and directed by Eli Brown. It is available internationally with English subtitles and transcript for translation. There is a 65′ as well as a 50′ version for international broadcast length.
The Storyteller of Amsterdam was a selection of the Docutah Film Festival in 2013 as well as an honorable mention at the New York Independent Film Festival.
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Karel Baracs (Amsterdam, 1950) has been a Dutch professional storyteller since 1990. His subjects are primarily linked to Amsterdam and Dutch history. His most succesful story ‘Why Tram 8 No Longer Runs’ brings to life his home town during the Nazi occupation (1940-1945) and the persecution of the Jews. In ‘A Tsar in Amsterdam’ he describes how in the 17th century the famous Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, came to Holland to learn how to build ships. Baracs performs his tales and stories both in Dutch and English for audiences young and old from Amsterdam to London, from Anvers to Budapest. In 2008, Karel Baracs was officially appointed City Storyteller of Amsterdam. For this achievement, he eventually was inducted as a ‘Member in the Order of Orange’ by Queen Beatrix in 2012.