Leading up to the horrors of World War II and the Nazi Holocaust, an estimated 100,000 LGBT Europeans were arrested and thrown into camps as part of Hitler’s Final Solution. This terrifying part of history will be retold through a 7-player chamber music production happening next week, produced by a group of local and international performers from the Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia (CMSCVA).
“I thinks it’s really important for people to realize the Nazi’s persecuted everyone and I think that’s a fundamental learning lesson for the times we’re going through right now,” said Jim Wilson, Artistic Director for the CMSCVA, who’s producing the show, For a Look or a Touch. Itwill play for one night only on Monday, February 29, 7:30pm at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, 1000 Blanton Ave., Richmond.
Wilson, himself a gay man, was excited to bring the 2007 production to the local stage because he wants his group to help push the narrative around what many still consider a controversial issue.
“Here we are, nine years [since the pieces inception], and finally I feel like now I can present this piece in RVA, but there’s still gonna be some people uncomfortable with the idea,” he said.
For a Look or a Touch follows the story of two gay men who suffered at the hands of Nazi persecution, Gad Beck and Manferd Lewis. The piece is a mix of opera and chamber music, with an actor (Doug Shnider) acting as a narrator, speaking lines and an opera singer, baritone John Taylor Ward, singing lines. A five piece musical troupe plays the instrumentation in the background.
The story is based on the documentary Paragraph 175 which details the Nazi law that made homosexuality illegal. Check out the trailer from the doc below:
Wilson said the performance will be a concert production, with no costumes and minimal staging – the performers will have sheet music at hand, but the power of the story and the talent in the room will be enough to show the dramatic nature of the issue.