Vertigo’s newest student production, The Lilliput Troupe, opens this Thursday and tells the story of the Ovitzes – a family of dwarves who give their first vaudeville performance after surviving the Holocaust.
“[The Lilliput Troupe] tells the story about the captive relationship, the human spirit and how they’re able to continue after traumatic events, and most importantly about the family and how they were able to make it out alive and stay together,” said Maddie Ambrose, a sophomore theater major and the show’s producer.
Lilliput isn’t all smiles and songs, though. The story is set during the Holocaust and reflects themes relevant to Holocaust Remembrance Day. The family’s first show is told in the framework of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, but with suggestions of their experiences in captivity and torture.
Despite the grim nature of its context, Ambrose believes that the show also conveys the perseverance of optimism and happiness after tragedy.
“Not only did the family survive the war, they continued to make theater and they continued to spread their art. As much as Nazi Germany tried to take dignity away from people, people were still able to maintain their humanity and dignity and to spread love and joy, even after huge atrocities occurred to them,” Ambrose said.
The hour-long show, written by Communication senior Gabrielle FeBland, has been in development for almost a full year. The play is composed of three layers – a family narrative, a vaudeville show and a series of flashbacks. This unique style of storytelling will appeal to Northwestern students who want to see something different, Ambrose said.
Producing a show from script to stage comes with its challenges. Sharing the same artistic version with a team of varied and diverse students was difficult, Ambrose said, but came with its rewards.
“Once everyone can be supportive of the same thing and they feel specifically important to the final product, that’s when productions are the best,” Ambrose said. “It’s been a really exciting challenge, getting everyone together as a family rather than a group on the same show. It really pays off in the final product.”
Beaming with pride, Ambrose encouraged students to see The Lilliput Troupe with an open mind. “You’ll laugh, you’ll have shivers down your spine, you will leave full of thoughts on humanity and hope, and all in only one hour!”