"Continuity in Diaspora: Theatrical Performance in the Terezín Ghetto"
Lisa Peschel was recently awarded a Ph.D. in theater historiography and history from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She also has an M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, and a B.S. in English literature from the University of Wisconsin. For her Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellowship, Dr. Peschel conducted research for her project “Continuity in Diaspora: Theatrical Performance in the Terezín Ghetto.”
Dr. Peschel has published a bilingual Czech-German edition of plays written by prisoners in the Terezín ghetto, entitled Divadelní texty z terezínského ghetta/Theatertexte aus dem Ghetto Theresienstadt, 1941-45 (Theatrical Texts from the Terezín Ghetto; Akropolis, 2008). An English-language version of this volume will be published in fall 2011. She has authored and co-authored several anthology chapters and journal articles relating to theater during the Holocaust, including with Alan Sikes, “Risking Representation: Performing the Terezín Ghetto in the Czech Republic,” in Theatre Topics (2008), and “The Law of What Can Be Said: The Archive and Theatrical Performance in the Terezín Ghetto,” in Literature of Concentration Camps (Cambridge Scholar Publishing, 2007). Dr. Peschel is the recipient of many awards and grants, including an Austrian Fund for the Future project grant to fund the publication of her recent volume, the Shevlin Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Minnesota, and a Fulbright Grant to support her dissertation research in the Czech Republic. Dr. Peschel is fully proficient in German and Czech.
During her tenure at the Center, Dr. Peschel examined prisoners’ use of theater in the Terezín ghetto as a way to cope with the most traumatic aspects of their ghettoization, enabling them to maintain a sense of continuity with their prewar lives even in conditions of shocking displacement and confinement. Dr. Peschel analyzed scripts written by Czech- and German-speaking Jews—taking into consideration prewar performance practices and postwar testimony—to learn how different groups preserved nationally specific aesthetic and social value systems through theatrical performance. She ultimately expanded her analysis to additional sites, presenting theatrical performance as a widespread but as yet unrecognized form of social crisis management. Dr. Peschel utilized the Museum’s archival collections, specifically the diaries and testimonies of survivors of the Terezín ghetto, to complete her research.
Dr. Peschel was in residence at the Mandel Center from September 1 to December 30, 2009.