Sidmouth Youth Theatre member stars in WW2 musical

Sidmouth College drama head’s daughter wows critics in Youth Music Theatre’s Korckzak musical

THE exceptional acting talent of Sidmouth Youth Theatre member Hannah Thompson has been recognised after performing in Korckzak with the Youth Music Theatre in Kingston on Thames.

Hannah, daughter of Angela Davies, head of drama at Sidmouth College and director of SYT, played Gienia, an orphan, crippled by polio, who searches for her brother while heading to freight trains that will take them to Treblinka death camp in Poland.

The musical, based on real-life events, was written and directed by Nick Stimson, associate director at Plymouth Theatre Royal, and performed by 44 young people and one professional actor at The Rose Theatre.

It tells the story of Dr Janus Korczak, who looked after Jewish and Catholic orphans in Warsaw.

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Several reviews highlighted Hannah’s performance, one saying she brought “a riveting, beyond-her-years intensity to her role as the wilful Gienia.” (Alex Ramon, British Theatre Guide).

Hannah, 14, a student at Exeter School, said: “In this project I learned so much about humanity and inhumanity on a truly emotional journey.”

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Her character Gienia was searching for her brother Samuel and dies of diphtheria before they leave for Treblinka.

“I don’t think I have cried so much in my entire life,” said Hannah, who met a ghetto survivor and half-sister of Anne Frank.

“Both spoke to the cast about the message of the play and how important it is that the real truths we reveal are never forgotten.

“This was a humbling experience. I now understand the fear, the dignity, the pride and suffering of all those who were exterminated by the hate of the Nazi regime.”

Hannah said the experience would always live with her.

“I have worked with an inspirational writer, director and musical director this summer and I am more convinced than ever that this is what I want to do with my life,” said Hannah, who thanked those who helped support her financially through the project, particularly the Lions Club of Sidmouth and those who supported the Summer Breeze concert in Sidford in July.

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