Out of the Shadows Festival performing the Jewish archive

Prince Bettliegend

7 - 10 Aug

Seymour Centre is proud to present a world premiere:  the reconstruction of Prince Bettliegend (The Bedridden Prince), a comic musical revue written by young Czech-Jewish prisoners in the World War II ghetto at Terezín (in German, Theresienstadt).  Most of the cast perished in the Holocaust, but those who survived remembered the brilliant lyrics, set to beloved jazz melodies from 1930s Prague, and a few vivid moments of the plot.  From these fragments, a team of researchers, musicians and theatre artists has created a performance that captures the prisoners’ astonishingly irreverent sense of humour while acknowledging the gravity of their fate.


Prince Bettliegend is a satirical fairy tale, written as a humorous critique of favouritism and corruption in the ghetto. It explores the plight of the Prince who, when he arrives in the ghetto, is stricken by a mysterious illness. Once he is officially declared bettliegend (bedridden) he no longer has to work, but what about those who must labour – or suffer even worse fates – in his place?  A survivor explained why they presented this story as comedy rather than tragedy:  “I don’t know if anyone today can imagine what laughter meant in a Nazi concentration camp. In spite of all the dirt, ugliness and horror, or rather exactly because of them, we all sought stimulus that would give us hope.” Please join us in this celebration of young artists who, in the final months of their lives, helped each other bear their fate with humour.


This world premiere reconstruction of this work is being performed as part of the Out of The Shadows Festival.


Audience Filming Notice – Audiences at this event will be filmed. By attending this event, you consent to your being filmed as part of the audience and the footage being used for a research study (sponsored and conducted by the University of York) including analysis by third party data analysis services. This footage will remain confidential, and your image will not be published or identified. If you do not wish to be filmed as part of the audience the research team will seat you in an area of the auditorium which has no camera coverage. Please refer to notices at the event for further information.


Director: Ian Maxwell
Researchers and Dramaturges:  Lisa Peschel, Joseph Toltz
Musical director: Kevin Hunt
Designer: Dylan Tonkin
Performers: Nigel Kellaway, Robert Jarman, Katia Molino, Gideon Payten-Griffiths, Yana Taylor and musicians from the Jazz Unit, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, The University of Sydney