The last cyclist. A creation of the concentration camp reaches television | THIRTEEN

Scene from the last cyclist. Photo by Alexander Jorgensen.

A play created by Jewish prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp has never been performed there, but next August viewers in New York will be able to catch it on two evenings airing only on THIRTEEN, the metropolitan city’s PBS station. from New York. Region. Close-up theatre: The last cyclist raw Tuesday, August 16 at 9:30 p.m. still the broadcast follows Sunday August 21 at 11 p.m.

The last cyclist is a dark and absurd comedy in which cyclists are blamed for all the ills of society and are rounded up and sent to “Horror Island” to be eliminated. The play was originally written and rehearsed in 1944 at the infamous Nazi labor camp of Terezín in what is now the Czech Republic. It was a deadly place of forced labor and a temporary stopover before deportation to the death camps, but the Nazis still invited delegates from the International Red Cross to visit Terezín on June 23, 1944. The The delegation was led to believe that the camp, within the former seaside resort and fortress called Theresienstadt, was a “retirement colony” for Jewish elderly people.

A nurse in white, whose face is also made up in white, points her finger.  Another person cowers nearby.

Scene from the last cyclist. Photo by Alexander Jorgensen.

The last cyclist was reconstructed, reimagined and produced by playwright Naomi Patz, who began her research in 1995. She based the play on the 1944 work by the original creator, Karel Svenk (March 17, 1917 – April 1, 1945), artist of cabaret and composer from Prague who was detained in Terezín. The last cyclist depicts a group of prisoners in Terezín rehearsing a slapstick comedy in which escapees from an insane asylum attempt to take over the world. Because they hate their cycling doctor, once they escape from the asylum, they target all cyclists. They exploit the growing anti-cyclist hysteria by plotting to eliminate anyone whose family has had anything to do with bicycles for several generations. Good eventually defeats evil, but only on stage.

Patz recovered the lost play – originally banned due to its blatantly anti-Nazi allegory – through a process of cultural anthropology, basing his work on a 1965 essay on theater in Terezín. The film The last cyclist was performed during a show in front of a live audience at the avant-garde La MaMa Experimental Theater Club in New York’s East Village.

Notable talents

The musical score is by award-winning composer Stephen Feigenbaum. Feigenbaum adapted Svenk’s “March of Terezín” (courtesy of the Terezín Music Foundation and its director, Mark Ludwig) and used fragments of songs Svenk wrote in the camp in sections like this of the play, “Dear Red Cross Guest”.

The opening title artwork the footage is by Mark Podwal. The play and the film adaptation were directed by Edward Einhorn.


Three actors on a stage carry;  two have Stars of David on their garments.

Patrick Pizzolorusso (center) as Karel Svenk, Borivoj Abeles in The Last Cyclist. Photo by Alexander Jorgensen.

Craig Anderson – Franta, Celery, Balayage, Lunatic 4
Lynn Berg – Ota, Opportunist, Big Shot, Offstage Announcer
Kirsten Hopkins – Zuzana, Lunatic 2
Timur Kocak – Tomáš, Chief Medical Officer, Lunatic 3, Fellow Cyclist, Newsboy
Ambrose Martos – Leo, Lunatic 1
Jenny Lee Mitchell – Elena, Mrs., Mrs. Maničkova
Eric Emil Oleson – Jiří, Hitler, Rat
Patrick Pizzolorusso – Karel Švenk, Bořivoj Abeles
Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld – Jana Šedová, Mánička, Red
Clay Westman – Pavel, fiddler, Rich, Mr. Hippo
Judy Blazer – Older voiceover of Šedová
Marina Dessena – Piano

Learn more about the production, film and cast of LaMama and the creative team on the official website of The last cyclist.
Close-up on the theater is a unique collaboration between THIRTEEN and Off-Broadway and regional theaters in the New York area, spotlighting a diverse mix of innovative theatrical productions in prime time.

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