This Sunday in Eisenhower Auditorium, audiences will be asked to contemplate the idea of what it would be like if the most hated man in history had a daughter.
Based on a novel by Jackie French, “Hitler’s Daughter ” tells the story of four children — Anna, Mark, Ben and Tracy — living in modern-day Australia.
While waiting at the bus stop, Anna imagines a story about Hitler’s fictional daughter, Heidi, to entertain the other three children as they wait. The play switches between Nazi Germany and present-day, as one of the characters, Mark, becomes immersed in the story.
“It is a fictional story but based in real life issues and situations,” Laura Sullivan , marketing and communications director for the Center for the Performing Arts, said. “The play explores society’s fears and prejudices and gives the audience some things to contemplate following the performance.”
The play is performed by the Monkey Baa Theatre Company — an Australian theatre group for young children that is based in Sydney. The company is currently on its U.S. tour where it will perform “Hitler’s Daughter” in 17 cities around the country.
The CPA is always looking for plays that are geared toward the younger generation, Sullivan said. Amy Vashaw, audience and program development director for the CPA, had previously seen the play at the International Performing Arts for Youth Conference and believed it to be a good choice for a Sunday matinee in State College.
“It is a very powerful exploration of a lot of serious questions, such as what responsibility children bear for the actions of our parents,” Vashaw said.
Speaking to its agents, the CPA was able to get the Monkey Baa Company to make a stop in State College after a performance in New York. This will be the group’s only performance in Pennsylvania, Sullivan said.
As well as the Sunday matinee performance, there will also be a “School-Time Matinee” on Monday, where schools from around the area can attend the play.
“The purpose of the [School-Time Matinee] is to illuminate history for the attendees through the lens of this engaging piece of historical fiction,” Vashaw said.
There are seven schools — four of which are high schools — and four homeschool families planning to attend Monday’s performance.
“When students attend a live performing arts experience, they are broadening their perspective through experiential learning,” Medora Ebersole , educational programs manager for the CPA, said. “We encourage teachers to integrate the arts into their classroom, particularly as related to the performance of ‘Hitler’s Daughter.’ ”
Rebecca Thorsen , a State College High School English and journalism teacher, will be attending the Monday matinee with her tenth grade students. The subject matter covered in the play aligns with the students’ curriculum and it allows the students to see the history in an aesthetic art form, Thorsen said.
“I hope that [the students] take away a better understanding of tolerance and patience,” Thorsen said. “[The play] seems to have a more modern twist to it, so maybe giving them another way to think about the [Holocaust] in a more modern context, as well.”
Tickets are $15 and $8 for students. The play is recommended for children 10 and older.