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HHS spring play promises new experience for actors and audience

Denise Baker is directing "I Never Saw Another Butterfly" at Hudson High School March 27-29 and April 3-5. The production, which puts the audience onstage with the actors, is the first of its kind at HHS.

Denise Baker has been involved with almost every production at Hudson High School in recent years in a variety of roles including director and choreographer. But this spring, she and the cast she directs are trying something completely different.

"I Never Saw Another Butterfly" by Celeste Raspati is the story of a young Czech girl, Raja Englandvreoa, who along with more than 60,000 other Jews, was held in the Terezin ghetto in Prague before being sent to Auschwitz.

Baker says the Germans described Terezin as a "good place for privileged Jews to wait out the war." In actuality it was another concentration camp. The story is told in flashbacks as Raja remembers her experience there, being taught in a makeshift school by artists and intellectuals. The art and writing by the children there was buried in the ground and unearthed after the war and published.

Baker said she wanted the students to experience something different in this year's production and was looking for specifically for something that would be adaptable to a "black-box performance" similar to the one at The Phipps Center. The audience for this year's production will be on auditorium stage and surround the 20-member cast on three sides.

Baker says the cast is having a much different acting experience than in more traditional stage productions. "They have had to learn a completely different acting technique. There is no buffer zone between them and the audience. They have to keep it very real and honest- no big gestures or exaggerated moves."

The experience will be a different on for the audience as well according to Baker. "It is a very intimate setting and the subject matter of the play is intense. It is shorter but there is no intermission. It changes things when you are sitting so close to story."

Baker said the play is about the best and worst in the human spirit and she has worked with her cast to find "rhythm" of the play. " It is sad and horrible what happened to Raja and the others but it is important to portray those things that helped them survive it. The play moves from level to level, from very dark and sad to lighter moments and back again--the way life works. Everything we experience becomes part of who we are. The message here is that Raja makes peace with that and moves on to the rest of her life."

There is limited seating available for the six performances. Show times are 7 p.m. on March 27-28 and April 3-4 and 2 p.m. on March 29 and April 5. Tickets are $7 for adults ,$5 for students and are on sale now. HHS box office hours are Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-12:40 p.m., 2:45 -4 p.m. and Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 6-7:30 p.m.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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