Exploring the Light Behind the Darkness
When A.S. Peterson was asked by A.D. Players to adapt Corrie ten Boom’s remarkable memoir into a play, it didn’t take him long to say yes.
To further his understanding of the story, which follows the ten Boom’s decision to hide Jews from the Nazis in World War II Holland, he traveled not only see the family’s watch shop and home in Haarlem, but also to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany, where Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent for their defiance of the Reich.
“It was darker and bleaker than I’d imagined,” he told a gathering of A.D. Players guests at a behind-the-scenes look at the show, which opens this week.
He carried that experience of the ten Booms’ fear and courage with him as he wrote the story, one which is considerably dear to A.D. Players’ heart. The 1971 book was made into a movie, which was released in 1975. It starred A.D. Players founder Jeanette Clift George, who would go on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer – Female, as Corrie.
“She had such success in that film,” says Kevin Dean, A.D. Players artistic director, who is also directing the world premiere. “She could have stayed in Hollywood and pursued her film career, but she chose not to do that.”
Indeed, Jeanette Clift George would use that success to build A.D. Players’ own, often bringing along cast members when she would speak at events and conferences, showing audiences around the country what this small theater company from Houston could do.
With The Hiding Place, A.D. looks to continue—and build up on—that legacy. The show opens the company’s 2019-2020 season, and Dean feels the show has many relevant themes to offer audiences.
“We’ve partnered with the Holocaust Museum to put together educational material that focuses on people during the Holocaust, those who stood up and fought back and helped people—and in many cases, that ended tragically.”
In 1940, the Nazi war machine swept into Holland, and very shortly after began a purge of Jews from the country. Rounded up and carted to camps across Europe, they endured hard labor and endless torment. More than six million would be murdered.
The Hiding Place explores how the Christian ten Boom family, like others, came to the aid of their fellow countrymen, sheltering them in their homes, helping them flee Europe and otherwise standing up to Nazi hatred. Those caught protecting Jews often suffered similar fates as their Jewish neighbors, imprisoned, tortured, and killed for being traitors.
The ten Booms not only defied the Reich, they clung to their own Christian faith, seeking to lead with love with and forgiveness.
“This is just as much a story of Corrie’s journey to forgive and learning how to live in the aftermath of the decision she and her family made,” explains Dean. “Forgiveness isn’t a skill to learn, it’s a choice to make, and rarely is it easy. It’s actually much harder to forgive than it is to hold on to anger and hate.”
Those kinds of themes fit squarely into the programming A.D. Players has always done, building off the organization’s Christian roots. But the company also recognizes there are universal truths in a play like The Hiding Place, that will appeal to audiences of broad backgrounds.
“A story like this is enduring,” he says. “Our climate today is so divisive. There’s an inability to empathize with others, and that’s really what you see in the Holocaust. You have people seeing those who are different as less than human. And that’s just terrifying.”
Ultimately, though, The Hiding Place becomes a story of hope and how love can bring us closer to each other.
“There is light beyond all darkness,” Peters said about what he’d learned writing the play. “Betsie and Corrie taught me well.”
September 13–October 13. Tickets from $36. A.D. Players, 5420 Westheimer Rd. 713-526-2721. More info and tickets at adplayers.org.