Editor’s note: Listen Up is a Q&A featuring locals in the arts and culture community.
This week: Alicia Klein, actress with Eau Claire Children’s Theatre. She can be seen as Mutti in ECCT’s “And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank.” The show runs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 7, at The Oxford, 1814 Oxford Ave.
What is your first memory of being on stage?
I’ve been on stage since I was 4 years old. I studied as a dancer, so most of my years on the stage were in dance, both as a nonprofessional and professional dancer.
I did a lot of theater during the summer as a young adult (in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).
How long have you been acting with ECCT?
Seven years. We moved here in 2008.
I’ve been on the board of directors, done acting, stage managing and also perform as one of the professionals in our annual “Dancing with the Eau Claire Stars.”
Why did you want to be involved with the children’s theater?
Theater has always been a part of my life, but then of course I got married, had three children and did the stay-at-home mom thing. Theater was put on the shelf for me.
It wasn’t until my youngest son expressed interest that I brought him down to the children’s theater to audition. He was in a couple shows.
One day while I was waiting for him I thought, “what the heck? I’m a little rusty but let’s throw my hat in the ring and see what happens.”
Now I’ve been in well over 20 productions and stage managed equally that number of productions.
Why did you want to be part of ECCT’s “And Then They Came for Me”?
This role is a reprisal for me, I performed last time the children’s theater did this production.
This particular play is important, especially in today’s political atmosphere.
I returned from a three-week trip this summer to eastern Europe, where I visited six different concentration camps and a number of museums.
The trip was educational so there was required reading and discussion groups. I really came away with a better understanding of how easily and swiftly something like the Holocaust can happen.
I think it’s important we always carry that message and make it available to younger audiences as the Holocaust becomes a more distant memory.
What has being Mutti taught you about the Holocaust?
I view it from the vantage point of a parent, and how incredibly terrifying it must have been for Jewish families and especially for parents, the incredibly difficult decisions they were faced with in either splitting up their families or simply sending off children to another country in the hopes their child would be safe and never really knowing if that’s how things would end up.
They sent them off with nothing more than hope and zero guarantees that your child or you would survive.
Did your trip impact how you play Mutti?
I’ve been able to bring my experience and share it with the rest of the cast, especially the younger members of the cast who, because of their age, might not really have a full grasp of the horror that was the Holocaust.
My being able to share what it was like for me to actually walk through a gas chamber in Auschwitz, to be in a bunker and explain to them what it is to truly be there and see it for yourself.
That’s what I was able to bring to this particular performance that I wasn’t last time I was in it.
How do you keep the mood light duringrehearsals?
Sometimes you have to go to a place that’s emotional.
But, while it’s emotional for the actors, we are also remembering our blocking, our exits, when we have to be on next, enter stage right or left — there’s a lot of direction gong on in our minds besides just delivering the lines.
In some ways that helps with not getting too overcome by the material because you also have a job to do.
Why should people come to this show?
In today’s political climate, whether our country or in other countries, it is important to remember what it is humankind is capable of doing to each other, and how swiftly in just the right political climate those things can actually happen.
In the sense that people might feel, “Oh that can never happen again,” I can assure you it absolutely can. That’s why I think its important we educate and remember, and we keep this topic very much fresh.
— Katy Macek