On May 25, Mepham High School's Voices from the Past class presented their student-crafted, original work of theater titled “Voices from the Past.”
The production was designed and directed by the students of Voices from the Past, and the piece was performed in conjunction with student actors from Mepham's Skull and Bones Drama Club. Co-teachers Edward Grosskreuz and Stu Stein produced and oversaw the entire undertaking.
“Voices from the Past showcases the voices of victims, survivors, perpetrators and witnesses — be they bystanders or upstanders — of genocide and human rights abuses stretching from 1915 Armenia to the present,” said Stein. “The entirety of the play, with the exception of bits of added narration, is comprised of their real and true testimonies. The play does not portray characters; it portrays people.”
The students conceived this play as their final project for the current school year. Over the course of the year, they studied the genocides in Armenia, Nazi Europe and Rwanda, to name a few, while also becoming informed about human rights violations including the Japanese internment camps of 1940s United States, modern slavery, child soldiers and human trafficking. What the students realized is that history continues to repeat itself as the lessons of the past are forgotten or ignored. While the students understand that they cannot go out and entirely change the world, they hope they could use their newfound knowledge to inspire others to reconsider the way they treat others. Compassion and empathy are the best defense against hatred and apathy, Grosskruez and Stein explained.
“Ultimately, it is our responsibility to hear the voices from the past and to listen to their stories,” said Grosskreuz. “By using our voices in the present to echo these tales, we aim to inspire our audience — the voices of the future — to remember these people, the hardships they endured, and the lessons they gift to us.”