I Never Saw A Play Like This One


Ceia Kasper

A collection of artwork and poetry created by the children in Terezin were used as the basis for I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Created by Kromrey Middle School students during their Holocaust study, the yellow butterflies were a symbol of defiance for the people in Terezin.

Alexa Williams

On February 1, the Middleton High School Theatre held its debut performance of I Never Saw Another Butterfly. The emotional, poetic, and profoundly touching play by Celeste Raspanti depicts life for children in Terezin, the Jewish ghetto and concentration camp before and during World War 2 under Hitler and the Nazis. The play was narrated by Raja Englanderova, played by senior Elora Becker and freshman Darshi Balaji, a Jewish girl who survived Terezin.

I Never Saw Another Butterfly is based on a collection of art and poetry created by the children in Terezin, and the play is filled with lines of recited poetry. At many moments during the play, images of the pictures drawn by the children were projected onto the backdrop. The emphasis on music, art, and poetry is a captivating glimpse of hope amidst the darkness of Terezin. While discussing why she selected I Never Saw Another Butterfly as the winter short play, Brunner pointed to the play’s use of art and poetry to show the “precious innocence of children” and how art and song were used to “keep their spirit alive.”

Erin Lemke, an MHS senior playing the Rabbi, said that the play opened their eyes to the fact that the children didn’t “have a voice or a say in what happened to them” and shows the importance of “[approaching issues] with a voice . . . while you still have the privilege to use it.”

Featuring an incredibly talented cast, I Never Saw Another Butterfly was captivating from start to finish. The lines were delivered with genuine emotion, at times, bringing the audience to tears. Character dynamics were vivid and realistic, and the actors expertly used body language to elevate their performances.

Two standout performances were that of Elora Becker, who played Raja Englanderova, and Nellie Gestring, an MHS junior and German exchange student who appeared as Irena Synkova. Their characters often appeared together on stage, and the relationship that developed between the two was lifelike and riveting. Both Becker and Gestring delivered skillful and touching performances.

On February 1-2. MHS Theatre put on a production of I Never Saw Another Butterfly. From left to right: Nick Tormey, Elora Doxtater, Nellie Gestring, Cate Ohly, Zoe Howard, Tanner Choate, Rhiannon Teschner, Vivian Szot, Ceia Kasper, Evelyn Williams, Johanna Bieske, Cheyenne Halverson.

From the grim, destitute background scenery to the detailed costume design, the MHS production was authentic. During their preparation for the play, the MHS cast met with Nicole Jahr, the Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Beth El, to learn more about the Jewish experience during the Holocaust. The attention to detail was apparent in the costumes, which according to Claire Weigert, the Hair and Make-up Designer, were created by studying pictures of concentration camps and Nazi propaganda videos in order to give the audience a look into life in Terezin.

Altogether, the poetic and stirring realism of the play combined with incredible performances and poignant imagery made I Never Saw Another Butterfly one of the best plays I have ever seen. In preserving the memory of the Holocaust and raising awareness about injustice and the dangers of hate and intolerance, this play provides apt social commentary. I Never Saw Another Butterfly brought a powerful, moving, and timely piece of art to MHS, showcasing the true talent of the cast and crew.