Australian theater company explores moral responsibility in 'Hitler's Daughter'

Posted by John Mark Rafacz on March 14, 2013 

Parents are obligated to care for their children. Many of us would also assert that parents are responsible for the actions of their children—especially young kids. But do children have some responsibility for the deeds of their parents?

What if your parent did terrible things? Would it be your moral obligation to try to stop him or her?

That's the question at the core of Monkey Baa Theatre Company's play Hitler's Daughter. The touring company, based in Sydney, Australia, performs the work at 2 p.m. Sunday in Penn State's Eisenhower Auditorium.

Hitler's Daughter, recommended for children 10 and older, poses powerful questions about a frightening period in history and compels audiences to examine moral issues in relations to society's fears and prejudices.

The play, based on a novel by Jackie French, tells the story of four kids—Mark, Ben, Anna and Tracey. As they wait for the school bus on a rainy morning, Anna tells the imagined tale of Heidi, the disfigured daughter of Adolph Hitler, who is caught in the chaos of World War II and hidden out of shame by her infamous father.

Tickets are still available for the March 17 play.

Described as "emotive and gripping" by Australian Jewish News, Hitler's Daughter switches between Nazi Germany and contemporary Australia as Mark becomes engrossed in the story. As the play unfolds, he seeks answers from his friends, parents and teacher. His search for truth helps him to begin to understand the ways of the world. Could Heidi have stopped the atrocities of war, genocide and hate her father waged? Would Mark have acted differently in Heidi's place?

The play reaches its climax with the bombing of Berlin, the fall of the Third Reich and the loss of Heidi's innocence.

Monkey Baa's appearance at the Center for the Performing Arts is part of a 10-week tour of the United States.  

Hitler's Daughter is the company's most acclaimed production. At home in Australia, it earned the Helpmann Award for best children's presentation and the Drover Award for touring excellence.

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion with Hitler's Daughter cast members, is offered in Eisenhower one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints seating is limited.

On the day of the show, panels from the Sydney Jewish Museum will be on display at Eisenhower.

Audio description, which is especially helpful to patrons with sight-loss, is available for Hitler's Daughter at no extra charge to ticket holders.

The Butterfly Project display, a collaboration between Penn State Hillel students and the fifth- and sixth-grade classes at State College's Congregation Brit Shalom, is on exhibit at the Penn State Pasquerilla Spiritual Center main lobby through Monday.

Read a Center for the Performing Arts feature article about how some central Pennsylvania educators are using Hitler's Daughter to help their students learn about World War II and the Holocaust.




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