Polish Year of Janusz Korczak celebrated with new play in London

final visual 1-300As Poland marks the 70th anniversary of the death of Janusz Korczak in Treblinka, a stunning new play explores the life of this incredible hero of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Based largely, but not only, on the Ghetto diaries, the play offers an insight into how Korczak prepared himself and the children for the final and inescapable ‘evacuation east’. The audience are invited into the Orphanage in the Ghetto on the night of August 4th to share those last hours. Korczak, surrounded by his children, reflects on his life and his writings, the state of the world, and relationship between adults and children. How aware is he of the events to come? At times he is interrupted by the children with different issues and problems, and he always responds with his humour and simple and yet deep wisdom.


Jonathan Salt makes his debut as a writer with this one man show, “Confessions of a Butterfly”, directed by Sam Conway. “Great care has been taken in the production process to capture the true essence of Korczak and what he stood for,” said Jonathan. The writer worked closely with the Korczak Archives in Warsaw, and with British Korczak expert, Sandra Joseph, and went to Poland to write the play. Both Jonathan and Sam are returning to Poland this July to film for a short documentary about the creation of the project, to be released at the end of August. Whilst there, they will also start the rehearsal process. “It is very appropriate that we start this journey in Warsaw, the city that Korczak loved,” said Director, Sam Conway. I was last in Poland in 2005 on the night Pope John Paul II died. We were researching Korczak then as part of a musical about his life. The experience had a profound effect on me, and I can’t wait to return to this great country.”

The set, designed by Brian Barnes, is constructed in HMP Littlehey, in Cambridgeshire. “This is great,” said Jonathan, “as Korczak was extremely concerned with the provision of justice and especially rehabilitation. He regularly visited the prisons of Warsaw, especially those where Juveniles were detained. The basic design for the main image of the poster has also been created by a young offender.” One of the choristers of Kings College School in Cambridge, Tom Pickard, aged just 11, was asked to record some violin music for the role of Abrasha, a child prodigy, who was in the orphanage. Abrasha’s story is just one of the individual stories told in the play. “What has been extraordinary has been to unearth the words and music of the song sung by the children that day as they left the orphanage for the last time,” said Sam Conway. The song has been recorded by students at Wheatfields School in St. Ives in Cambridgeshire.

Confessions of a Butterfly opens at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre in London on the 10th September, running until 29th. Tickets are available from www.ticketweb.co.uk, and the play is previewing at the Key Theatre in Peterborough on 16th – 18th August, and tickets are available from the Theatre Box Office on 01733 207239.

For further details contact: Jonathan Salt on 07581148303.

The play is supported by the Polish Cultural Institute in London.

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