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The Scarlet & Black

Stevens shares history via music

“An Evening with Madame F,” written and performed by Claudia Stevens, was a breathtaking solo performance held this past Wednesday, April 27, in Sebring-Lewis Hall. The piece was a Holocaust memorial, composed of various songs played and sung by Stevens through the characters of Auschwitz inmates and Madame F, a member of the Auschwitz orchestra; Fred Cohn wrote the music for the play.

Stevens’ acting throughout the evening was wrought with emotion and catharsis, but her most amazing talents were her singing and piano playing. She played elaborate and complex pieces while remaining in character and even switching characters, using the music as her own soundtrack to add strength to her varying voices and emotions. Stevens alternated between singing and speaking, using direct quotes from Auschwitz inmates as well as meditations of her own and singing songs that the Auschwitz orchestra had performed. Her operatic voice was powerful and pure and resonated around the room with vibrato.

Stevens has been performing ”An Evening with Madame F” for over two decades in over 28 cities and at a number of leading colleges and universities. She has written several other plays and performed them throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. The daughter of two Holocaust survivors, Stevens struggled greatly in the initial creation of “An Evening with Madame F,” but she feels that it was a necessary struggle that anyone attempting to reenact the Holocaust should face.

Stevens’ talent and intelligence shone clearly through Wednesday’s performance. As mentioned in the after-show discussion, “An Evening with Madame F” is saturated with irony, keeping in line with the emotion of the survivors who never truly come away from the experience. Stevens’ own father was not originally supportive of her writing the play as he thought it would present a threat to his daughter’s safety, and he repeatedly told her, “It’s not your story.”
Even so, Stevens was able to come to terms with her role as both the daughter of Holocaust survivors and as a Jewish woman, and wrote and performed the piece, in which as a single woman she is able to represent an entire concentration camp, from the SS officers to the inmates, to the orchestra in an introspective and constructive style.

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