By Nicole Hawkins
Special to the TJP
The true story of two young students who sacrificed their lives leading an underground resistance against the Nazi regime has been told for decades, but now it’s being re-imagined into a production set to run in Fort Worth the last weekend of March.
“Hans & Sophie” tells the story of German siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, initially part of the Hitler youth, who had a change of heart and went on to lead a nonviolent grassroots movement against Hitler’s regime called The White Rose. They were executed as a result. The play is inspired by the siblings’ personal letters, coded correspondences and diaries.
The play was co-created by director and Fort Worth native Illana Stein, playwright, and Austin native Deborah Yarchun and actor Sean Hudock. The trio wrote the play together, with Yarchun leading the writing process.
“Hopefully this true story and the work we’ve done to bring it to life onstage will touch audiences in a way that inspires action and resistance toward present-day leaders whose abuse of power has led to systematic oppression of others,” Hudock said.
“Hans & Sophie” received a residency with the Drama League in New York City, which is when Stein said she, Hudock and Yarchun transformed “Hans & Sophie” from a sketch into a play.
The shows in Fort Worth will be the first time the play is performed in front of an invited audience, and Stein said she and her fellow playwrights look forward to receiving feedback from Fort Worth audiences in order to adapt the production for its run in New York.
“There’s a vibrant Jewish community in Fort Worth along with a great artistic community,” Stein said. “So it’s a great place to bring this kind of story to.”
Yarchun said it’s important to show audiences characters who stood up against hate crimes and hateful rhetoric like Hans and Sophie, especially with its rise in society today.
“They understood [hateful rhetoric] on a deep level and chose to speak against it,” Yarchun said.
Stein said she finds it inspiring that horrible tragedies like the one portrayed in “Hans & Sophie” can lead to young people standing up and fighting for what they believe. Stein’s cousins were students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when 17 students and faculty members were killed in a mass shooting last year. The activism seen from students in Parkland after the tragic loss of their peers and teachers reminded Stein of the bravery shown by Hans and Sophie as they resisted Hitler’s regime.
“They chose to fight against something that they thought was atrocious,” Stein said. “I find it very inspiring that it’s the youth that spoke up.”