“Final Letters” Learning from the past to change the present

Plank Article Oliver Leinberger ’23

On Friday, Nov. 4, Jesuit Drama held the Opening Night Gala and Performance of the fall play “Final Letters,” a company-created production based off of the Yad Vashem Archive’s “Final Letters.” This solemn yet educational production presents emotional letters written by Jewish victims of the Holocaust while under Nazi oppression.

Jesuit Drama and Artistic Director Mr. Ed Trafton ’84 did an outstanding job directing. The lighting along with the historical photos of Holocaust victims occasionally displayed on the Black Box Theater’s walls brought the play and its messages to life. Also, the intense violin instrumentals and the quiet but eerie sounds playing throughout the show delivered another layer of emotion.

Every member of the 12 person cast did a phenomenal job at embodying and humanizing each victim who wrote a letter, leaving a big impact on the audience. During the Question and Answer session after the show, the cast noted how they spent many hours researching the Holocaust and the victims’ tragic experiences in order to understand the gravity of this production, and you could see the fruits of their efforts through their passionate performances.

The most admirable thing about “Final Letters” was the play’s purpose: to spread awareness and encourage action that makes a difference. News clips from recent reports about horrible antisemitic behavior along with the post-show Question and Answer session highlighted how relevant this issue is in society today.

Juxtaposing the antisemitism of the past with the antisemitism of today should encourage us all to feel moved to effect change. We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it and take action in the present to ensure that everyone is respected and treated justly.

As seen with “Final Letters,” theater can be entertaining, but it can also be educational, showing us how we ought to be and how we ought to live with one another.