Arts & Entertainment

Olean Theatre Workshop Stages Holocaust Play That Has Message of Hope

Lesley Patrone faces cast. Stephanie Kopec sits center stage. From left to right are Grace Haynes, Grace Ventura, William Taggerty, Gerry Zimmerman, Julia Rakus, Linda Edstrom, and Kaitlyn Patrone.

OLEAN, NY – Audiences can witness how hope and resilience emerged from tragedy and despair when the Olean Theatre Workshop stages “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” from Oct. 12 to 15.

The play is based on a book of art and poetry written by children who lived in the Jewish ghetto/concentration camp of Terezin in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust.

Director Lesley Patrone said that helping the young cast relate to their characters has been a key component in the rehearsal process.

Sign Up for E-News

“It is a show that takes some maturity, some understanding, some empathy, and obviously some reaching beyond their own real experiences,” Patrone explained. “The horrors of the Holocaust are things that they wouldn’t even come close to knowing. The first challenge was to introduce them with videos and things to some of the stuff they would see.”

According to the OTW website: “Over 15,000 Jewish children passed through Terezin, and only about a hundred were still alive when Terezin was liberated at the end of the war. One of the survivors, Raja, having lived through it all, teaching the children when there was nothing to teach with, helping to give them hope when there was little enough reason for hope, creating a little world of laughter, of flowers and butterflies behind the barbed wire, tells the true story of the children.”

Olean High School senior Julia Rakus, who has been with OTW since 2006, has been cast as Raja. She said that although the play involves a great deal of sadness, the message is ultimately one of hope.

“There were bonds and relationships being formed,” Rakus said. “They could overcome such awful things when they were happening. It’s uplifting to see that these kids could do this -- so pretty much anything you’re going through, you can do it too.”

Ethan Dalton, an Olean High School junior who will play Pavel, explained why he thinks this show is so valuable.

“One of my favorite aspects is the historical accuracy,” Dalton said. “It was written after somebody and in honor of somebody. I think it does a really good job at informing people and taking people back to what happened. Hopefully people will take a step back and look at the big picture, you know, that people will understand what happens outside their sphere of influence.”

The Olean High School film class will create a video that will play in the beginning of the performance. Patrone said that this partnership has helped to further OTW’s mission.

“One of our missions is to do family theater, and we also have an emphasis on working with kids and generally, during the school year, what we try to do is connect with the Olean City School District and enlarge the curriculum,” Patrone explained.

Audiences will also have the opportunity to see some of the art work that the children of the Terezin camp produced.

“The Bethany Lutheran Church gave us money to have some reproductions of the actual artwork of the children from the concentration camp and so that will be on display during the performance,” Patrone explained.

Performances for "I Never Saw Another Butterfly" will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12-14 and at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 15 in the theater at 702 Washington St. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by phone at 716-373-7469 or on the OTW website.







TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Greater Olean

Bonnies Historic Season Will Give Community Source of Pride Years to Come

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY -- The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball season came to an end earlier than the team had hoped. Coaches looked disappointed, and players covered their faces with towels. St. Bonaventure’s (26-8) loss to Florida (21-12) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament left many thinking what if?

However, the Bonnies historic season is nothing for the team to ...

Sights and Sounds: The First Four of the NCAA Tournament

Traffic is a common occurrence, but for fans of the Dayton Flyers, it’s a usual event every gameday. A trip across the Great Miami River leads to the Flyers’ athletic complex. It became the same ritual for Bonnies fans heading to the University of Dayton Arena for the team's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012.

Snow, sleet and hail pounded down on the car as we ...

My Experience: What Almost Was Not

DAYTON, OHIO -- I almost didn’t get to shoot the game.

My media credential got all messed up because I neglected to go through one minor process (I’m an idiot lol and didn’t check my email). Luckily, some amazing people and friends helped push my name through, and I was granted media access to Tuesday's match against UCLA. For them, I am truly grateful and beyond ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, March 22, 10:00 AM

Olean Public Library, Olean

Stories and Stretching


Thu, March 22, 3:00 PM

YMCA, Olean

Financial Literacy for Students in Grades 6-8


Thu, March 22, 3:45 PM

Olean Public Library, Olean

Pokemon Club

Arts & Entertainment

CRCF Community Fund Grant Applications Are Due April 21

March 16, 2018

Grant applications for the next funding cycle of the Community Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation are due April 21.

“The Community Fund is an unrestricted fund that allows the foundation’s board to approve grants responsive to the changing needs of the community,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “The grants, typically between $100 ...

Archbishop Walsh Academy to Host St. Patrick's Day Party and Raffle

OLEAN, NY -- Archbishop Walsh Academy and the Walsh Sports Boosters Club will host their annual St. Patrick’s Day Party and Raffle on Saturday, March 24, from 7 to 11 p.m. at Archbishop Walsh, 208 N. 24th St. The event welcomes over 700 guests and raises nearly $100,000 each year. It has become one of the school’s largest fundraisers, supporting ...

'A Day in the Life': One Transportation Supervisor Serves Portville and Olean

PORTVILLE, NY – A whiteboard with dozens of destinations and vehicle numbers written in various colors sits inside the Portville bus garage, ready to be changed at any moment. David Youngs, the transportation supervisor of the Portville and Olean School Districts, knows that before 2 almost every afternoon, he is likely to receive an email changing the entire meticulously planned ...

'A Day in the Life' Follows Della Moore of the African American Center for Cultural Development

OLEAN, NY – When Della Moore walks down the street, she greets everyone she passes and makes sure to ask, “How are you doing?” 

From the moment I joined her at the 7-Eleven on a cloudy, cold December morning until we finished making our stops along State and North Union streets, she remained ...

'Day in the Life' Follows Warehouse Selector Justus Elliot

OLEAN, NY -- For Justus Elliot, time and pace are essential. As a warehouse selector for Olean Wholesale Grocery Co-Op, most of the 21-year-old’s job calls for efficiency.

“Everything is time-based," Elliot explained. "One hundred percent is the norm, and it’s what we work for every day. If our score is less, then we are moving too slow, and we kick it into ...

Happy Veterans Day, Mom

What began as an attempt to boost her GPA soon turned into a 22-year career for my mom, Ramona Lee Discavage.

On the first day of her freshman year at St. Bonaventure University in 1989, members of the Army ROTC Seneca Battalion helped incoming freshmen move their stuff into their dorm rooms.  Afterward, they invited all of the freshmen to a lunch.

“When they described the ...

Lynn Kemp: ‘Best Soldier I Could Be’

Lynn Kemp is nearing 95 and knows he has lived a good life.

“The good Lord has been awful good to me,” recalled the lifelong resident of Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. “I never refused an order. I tried to be the best soldier I could be. I don’t know what your relationship is with God, but mine is pretty close.”

Born Oct. 29, 1920, Lynn grew up in a home on Turkey ...

WW II museum provides role models for young people

When Steve Appleby asks area students if they know Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kanye West, the Kardashians, Parris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, they answer yes. Then Appleby will ask which of them knows Jason Dunham is, and the students will not have a clue.

Appleby will explain that Jason Dunham was a Marine from Scio, in Allegany County, New York, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 after jumping on a grenade ...