By Emily Knepple, Arts and Entertainment Editor
The Queen’s Court Company opened its fifth season with Hiding in the Open, a play that follows the true story of two Jewish sisters who assume fake, Catholic identities during World War II. The three-show run of the drama from Nov. 2-4 was showcased at the Church of Precious Blood in Monmouth Beach.
In contrast to last year’s comedic production, The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet, the company debuted the year with a historical drama that brought to a life a topic studied in history classes at Trinity Hall: the Holocaust.
Senior Hailey Hartnett played the role of Sabina Zimering, the eldest sister, who struggled as she navigated herself and her sister throughout Europe without their family and, at one point, contemplated suicide.
“It definitely took a toll on me, emotionally, every night, getting up there and portraying someone my age that was going through what she was during such a horrific time,” Hartnett said. “I knew from my history classes the brutal behaviour of the Nazis and the lengths they were willing to go to get rid of Jewish people, and playing that out in theater brought what I learned in class to life. I felt really lucky to have the chance to portray someone as strong and fearless as Sabina, and it just strengthened my understanding of how terrible this time period really was.”
Students from all classes felt similar to Hartnett and found themselves making connections between what was happening on stage to their classroom discussions. “We actually just finished [studying] World War II,” sophomore Julia Hallman said. “A lot of the content in AP World History lined up right with the historical setting of the play, and I think that was the most interesting part.”
Director Ellen Phillips felt the play was a positive learning experience for the actors as well as the audience. “It gave the actors a chance to put what they were learning in the classroom on stage, and while it was challenging for them to explore this emotional issue in so many different ways, they really grew from it.”
Another challenge the actors faced was their additional role as stage crew, as they were responsible for changing the set from one scene to the next.
“It was fun to make it a part of your character, and it was exciting to change things up,” junior Abigail Devine said. “We grew more comfortable with more practice. At first it was difficult to deal with the scene changes quickly, but come time to perform, I think we were well prepared!” When asked about the play, Devine was eager to add, “This show was different, and I think, as a cast, we rose to the occasion when portraying such a serious topic.”