I want to thank friends and family who came out of their comfort zone and made the trip to Bexhill last weekend and are coming to Battle Church on Saturday October 8 to experience this emotional true story called PUSH.
The aftermath of a high is usually a low but after the performances on Saturday October 1, at De La Warr, the following day I still felt uplifted by the music and sentiment of this extraordinary tale told by us, a community group, with the help of a few professionals in the choir and two wonderful soloists. James Newby, who has been singing with the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus, was Simon Gronowski, the 10 year old boy, now 84, who survived the train to Auschwitz, and Tereza Gevorgyan played his sister (in the past one of her performances was Norma in Don Pasquale for Glyndebourne touring opera).
We were told that in the afternoon and in the evening we had 450 in the audience each time. I can still feel the moments when Simon and his sister sing their story of being separated and they remember their mother staying on the train after pushing her son and telling him to run, the choir and orchestra silent, the air in the space was still as if no-one was breathing, very powerful. The same happened when Simon Gronowski as an adult meets the guard who admits he put him on the train to the concentration camp in 1943 and asks now for forgiveness as he is dying. The guard is played and sung by Mathew Stiff, expressing the guilt of what he did in the past.
Simon grants him that wish and says it is the only way to move forward. There were standing ovations at both performances for us, director, composer, orchestra and for Simon Gronowski who read a short speech about why he feels he needs to tell this story. He said:
“PUSH is the eighth miracle of my life. It is marvellous for opera and music lovers and it is helpful for the young generation who oppose barbarity for a better world of peace, democracy, tolerance and friendship between people. To be able to attend this opera in my lifetime is most incredible and moving.”
We are repeating PUSH on Saturday October 8 in St Mary’s church, Battle. It will be a semi-staged version because of lack of space. Personally I would like to say that, apart from being at the inception of the Kino in Lion Street, this is the most exciting and moving experience I have been part of in many years.
Sadly, when we look at the world news it seems that Simon’s wish for peace in some countries appears impossible.
Community Group and Simon Gronowski photo by Pat Pope, audience and door photos by Heidi Foster