Organizers: Teatr CHOREA / Centrum Dialogu im. Marka Edelmana w Łodzi / Ruthie Osterman from Tel Aviv (Izrael)
Directors: Ruthie Osterman, Tomasz Rodowicz
Light and sound : Tomasz Krukowski
Visuals: Yoav Meir Cohen
Cast: Ruthie Osterman, Yoav Meir Cohen, Yoni Eilat, Guy Zakh, Joanna Chmielecka, Łucja Herszkowicz, Elina Toneva, Kuba Pałys, Tomasz Rodowicz
Premiere: 24.08.2012 (International Theatre Festival Retroperspektywy, Szwalnia Theatre, Lodz), 29.08.2012, 04.09.2012 (Project Szpera 1942, area of Lodz Ghetto)
"Szpera ‘42" is a common project of Polish and Israeli artists that resulted in an interdisciplinary performance directed by Ruthie Osterman and Tomasz Rodowicz. The pre-view of "Szpera ‘42" was organised during the RETRO/PER/SPEKTYWY 2012 International Theatre Festival. The opening night took place on 29 August and 4 September 2012 as a part of the celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Allgemeine Gehsperre and the 68th anniversary of the liquidation of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto, organised by Centrum Dialogu im. Marka Edelmana (The Marek Edelman Dialogue Center) in Łódź.
September 2012 marked the 70th anniversary of the so-called Wielka Szpera (Allgemeine Gehspere, General Curfew) - an action carried out by the Germans in the Łódź ghetto. As a result, over 15 thousand people were deported from the ghetto, including almost all children under 10 years of age, ill and elderly people over 60. Deportations took children from orphanages, shelters and hospitals, babies were torn away from their mothers and families. This concluded the first phase (lasting from January until September) of deportation of Jews to the extermination centre at Chełmno on the Ner (Kulmhof), the victims of which were almost 60 thousand people. Yet, it was that autumn action of Wielka Szpera that became the most important moment in the history of the ghetto. Thus, the history of the Litzmannstadt ghetto is divided into before and after Szpera... The word “Szpera” derives from the German expression Allgemeine Gehsperre, which meant a general curfew - a strict ban on leaving the house. It was introduced on 5 September 1942 and lasted until 12 September. "One representative of Gestapo surrounded by a group of Jewish policemen entered every single house in the ghetto, and called all of the inhabitants outside the house with a gunshot. He made them stand in a line and picked up the candidates for deportation." (The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, 1942). Children, ill and elderly people were deported and the Germans turned the ghetto into a labour camp. From then on, everyone who managed to survive Szpera had to work hard.
The "Szpera ‘42" performance is an international and interdisciplinary project combining diversity of arts: music, dance, photography, video art and theatre. It is a journey to authentic places and stories of the ghetto in Łódź. It is a meeting with people who lived in the ghetto, and a story about their lives. It is an attempt to initiate a frank contemporary vivid dialogue with the memory about the ghetto and to confront it with the contemporary everyday life of the city space we live in - with our lives. The heart of the performance is sharing the (Jewish and Polish) trip in our personal and collective consciousness. We want to get to know what really happens during the journey, what happens here, in these places and we can learn it thanks to the authentic meetings and stories about the ghetto, by listening intently to the surroundings, the walls, the buildings and the streets that keep telling the story of the people who used to lived here and who live here now among them.