On Monday January 27th 2020, Manchester Jewish Museum will mark Holocaust Memorial Day, (HMD) this international day of remembrance and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the largest of the Nazi death-camps with two premieres of musical and theatrical performances. These innovative and creative performances, based on the real-life experiences and testimonies of Manchester Jewry, refugees and Holocaust survivors will be staged for the first time at Manchester Central Library.
In the afternoon of Monday 27th January, music by acclaimed Israeli composer Na’ama Zisser, the first to introduce cantorial music into opera, will be performed together with a premiere of brand-new songs in a free pop-up performance installation, entitled Songs of Arrival, from 4pm in the Music Library.
The Museum’s very own community song-writing group – who have been working with musician and composer Joe Steele to create original compositions – will also perform. These brand new songs will premiere at the Library, and bring to life the Museum’s oral history collection from where stories of arriving in Cheetham Hill in the 1930s and 40s originate.
Of the four brand new songs written and performed for HMD by the Museum’s community writing group, two are based directly on stories from the museum’s oral history collection. The other two draw on themes of migration and cultural integration more generally; a song created with ESOL students at the Abraham Moss Adult Learning Centre takes as its inspiration the ubiquity of the phrase ‘Thank you, love’, which the students observed after arriving in Manchester, weaving together different translations including Arabic, Portugese and Welsh. Meanwhile, Celebration of Love, written by group member Andy Steele, brings a positive message of ‘making peace, not war’. A familiar face on the local open mic/pub circuit, Andy will have his music performed by a larger ensemble for the first time.
Opera Singer Peter Braithwaite, who is also the Museum’s Artist in Residence, concludes this interactive musical installation and line-up with one of Na’ama Zisser’s song Love Sick – performed in Hebrew and based on the Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim) a book in the bible which explores love. Originally from Cheetham, Peter has helped the Museum to curate this innovative and creative event, activating and breathing new life into its treasured archives.
All these mini performances will be staged in the afternoon of Monday 27th January as a work in progress and performed in different spaces of the Music Library. The moving stories behind the songs will be brought together by inviting audiences to listen to personal experiences from the archives and view some accompanying objects, now part of the Museum/s collection, which came to Manchester in the 1930s with the refugees.
In the evening of Monday 27th, the Museum’s commemoration of HMD continues with the Northern Premiere of Holocaust Brunch by London based, Canadian theatre maker and performer, Tamara Micner. Fusing and using comedy with beigels, this funny and brave solo show brings to life the true stories of two Holocaust survivors connected to Tamara, and pries open an intergenerational wound to explore why we remember the Holocaust and what it is like to live in the shadows of genocide and displacement.
Holocaust Brunch tells a remarkable true Holocaust survival story. Micner reflects on her experience of growing up as a descendent of survivors, and explores how communities can heal from ancestral trauma. Holocaust Brunch is a dark comedy, recounting a story not typically told, and Tamara Micner serves up beigels and cream cheese as she pries open an intergenerational wound and asks why we remember, and what it might look like to forget.
Created with a team of Jewish and non-Jewish artists, Micner’s moving, funny and thoughtful solo performance invites audiences to reflect how, as the next generation, we can keep memories alive. As part of the creation of Holocaust Brunch, Tamara Micner has collaborated with London-based printmaker Yael Roberts, who has made a series of original prints, The Trauma Documents, which respond to parts of the story and appear throughout the show as video projections. These will be on display at Manchester Central Library alongside the performance of Holocaust Brunch.
Tamara Micner, described as a “wonderful raconteur”“laugh out loud” (Vancouver Presents) (There Ought to be Clowns), creates live performances as a communal experience, drawing from her background in improv, dance, acting and playwriting, having trained at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, Yale University and the Royal Court Young Writer’s Programme. Her work, including A Secret Life (Theatre503) and Wink The Other Eye (Hackney Showroom) and Cabin Fever (Bush Theatre) centres on relationships and emotions, aimsing to encourage collective collective healing and solidarity.
Both the day and evening events curated and presented by Manchester Jewish Museum for HMD take place on Monday January 27th at Manchester Central Library where the museum is currently based until 2021. Building work is under way on a major extension of the museum’s original and historic Cheetham Hill site on the edge of Manchester city. During this time, the museum has moved its collections into the city centre Library, creating an interactive pop-up Wandering Jewish Museum in the centre of Manchester for the very first time.