On Stage with "The Children's Republic" and the Legacy of Janusz Korczak - Performing Arts Theatre Series Fall 2011

November 3, 2011 | Iana

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Please join us on Monday November 7, from 7-8 pm and hear guest speaker Hannah Moscovitch, Playwright-in-Residence at Tarragon Theatre and author of "The Children's Republic" (a co-production with Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company). She will talk about her play and the production, directed by Alisa Palmer, which can be seen at Tarragon Theatre from November 8 to December 18, 2011.

Hannah Moscovitch is a Canadian playwright and considered one of the strongest young theatre voices in the country. Hannah’s work has won multiple Dora Mavor Moore Awards and she has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award and the prestigious international Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her works include East of Berlin,  Essay, The Russian Play and the newest play "The Children's Republic", which premiered in 2009 at the Geat Canadian Theatre Centre, Ottawa.

In the play Dr. Janusz Korczak, a doctor, educator and champion of children's rights who runs an orphanage in Warsaw, Poland, meets his match in a defiant boy named Israel. When war threatens the children in the orphanage, Israel gives his teacher the greatest gift of all: courage.

The King of Children
       Loving Every Child        Janusz Korczak's Children

Dr. Janusz Korczak (born Henryk Goldszmit, 1878-1942) was a Polish-Jewish author, pediatrician and educator. In August 1942 he was forced to gather the nearly 200 orphans under his care in the Warsaw Ghetto. Refusing offers for his own safety, he accompanied them with quiet dignity to the tram that would take them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. They were taken to Treblinka extermination camp where they perished together during The Holocaust. Janusz Korczak left a legacy of humanitarian idealism and visionary thinking about children’s rights. He rose to national prominence in Poland in the pre-war years where he was lovingly called Pan Doktor (Mr. Doctor) or Stary Doktor (The Old Doctor). Korczak established orphanages where he experimented with progressive ideas and practices. In these “children’s republics” he encouraged youth to govern themselves and granted them as much independence as possible.

Janusz Korczak authored more than 20 books, including pedagogical works, children's fiction and the posthumously published Pamietnik (Ghetto Diary). The library has a number of biographies of Janusz Korczak as well as some of his works in Polish and in English translation:

Korczak's most popular children's novel and the only one translated in English is King Matt the First (Król Maciuś Pierwszy, Warsaw, 1923). I remember I loved reading it (the Bulgarian translation) as a child. Toronto Public Library has copies in Polish and in English that you can borrow.  
To complement Tarragon Theatre's production of "The Children's Republic" - the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre in Toronto (Spadina subway) is hosting the exhibition "Janusz Korczak and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto", which can be seen between November 3 and December 2, 2011. The exhibit is one of many events part of the annual Holocaust Education Week. Some of the programs during this largest Holocaust educational forum of its kind are hosted by branches of Toronto Public Library. These are free talks and everyone is welcome to attend. Hear the personal testimonies of Holocaust survivors who immigrated from Europe to Canada after the World War II. Perhaps during the Holocaust some of them were children at the same age as the children who were lovingly cared for by "Pan Doktor" Janusz Korczak.


On-stage             On-stage             On-stage

This is the third in our program on current Toronto theatre - On Stage Performing Arts Theatre Series - six lectures / six theatres.  They are all being held free of charge at the Toronto Reference Library - Beeton Auditorium.

  • The Normal Heart” hear guest speaker Joel Greenberg, Director and Artistic Director, Studio 180 Theatre on Monday, October 3, 7 - 8 pm.
  • "Ghosts”  hear guest speaker Paula Wing, Associate Artist, Soulpepper Theatre Company  on Monday, October 24, 7 - 8 pm.
  •  “The Children's Republic”  hear guest speaker Hannah Moscovitch, Playwright-in-Residence, Tarragon Theatre on Monday November 7, 7 - 8 pm.
  • “Red” hear guest speaker Natasha Mytnowych,  Associate Director of Programming, Canadian Stage  on Monday, November 14, 7 - 8 pm.
  • “Topdog/Underdog” hear guest speaker Philip Akin, Director and Artistic Director, Obsidian Theatre Company on Monday, November 28, 7 - 8 pm.
  • “The Penelopiad”  hear guest speaker: Kelly Thornton, Artistic Director, Nightwood Theatre on Monday, December 5, 7 - 8 pm.


Here is a video excerpt from a previous production of "The Children's Republic," a play by Hannah Moscovitch, presented by the Great Canadian Theater Company and the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.



Did you know the Performing Arts Department at the Toronto Reference Library also had: