Independent circus artist and researcher, New York, USA
Bio: Stav Meishar leads a double life around the world: during the day she runs Dreamcoat Experience, an award-winning nonprofit organization for creative Jewish education; at night she is a writer and a stage artist, specializing in circus and theater work. Sometimes, when she’s lucky, she gets to be both at the same time. She is committed to pursuing the gestalt of circus, history and education.
Title: Forgotten Legacies for Present Day Audiences: Circus Jews under National Socialism
Abstract: Before the rise of the National Socialist party, German circus included a number of Jewish families including the Lorchs, Strassburgers and Blumenfelds. Like all Jews under Nazi rule, they were forced to close or otherwise sell their businesses to their gentile colleagues before eventually being deported to various concentration camps. Very few survived. Of those few survivors, the story of Irene, Gerda, Alice and Hans Danner of the Lorch family stands out as an inspiring tale of courage and support: they were sheltered by the gentile Althoff Circus from 1941 through the end of the War, and their saviors were awarded the honor of Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem Museum for saving their lives. This presentation will be a research-based talk and short performance hybrid. It will explore the lives of these families and discuss the emergence of Holocaust Drama, highlighting the impact of staging survivor stories as a means to preserve the past and inform the future. The performance part will focus on the Lorch family’s rescue, presenting a segment of a multidisciplinary work-in-progress inspired by their time at the Althoff Circus.