Hope After Hate: E-Media Professor Shares Father’s Holocaust Experience

CCM E-Media Professor and Emmy Award-winning journalist Hagit Limor shares her father’s Holocaust survival story with lessons to inspire action against hatred and bigotry today

The spring 2020 edition of UC Magazine features a cover story about the ground-breaking “Hope After Hate” project launched by CCM E-Media Professor Hagit Limor. The story is available to read online.

Inspired by her father’s story of struggle and survival during the Holocaust, Limor set out to create “Hope After Hate: Moniek’s Legacy” to share his experience through immersive theatre and virtual reality. In October 2019, Limor’s Media Topics class of 15 students traveled to Poland and Germany to retrace her father’s journey. They will use the photos, videos and research collected during the trip to create an immersive play and virtual reality experience for the “Hope After Hate” project.

“Hope After Hate” will be an innovative, new kind of theatre — part play, part video and part virtual reality. Projections of historical settings will surround the audience during the immersive play, creating a virtual set in which they sit and interact with the actor portraying Moniek Limor. The “Hope After Hate” team is also creating a separate 15-minute virtual reality experience that will immerse users in Moniek’s story with goggles and hand sensors.

Viewers will be transported into the attic where he hid with his family as a child, into the Hasag-Pelcery labor camp where he was enslaved for more than a year as an adolescent, into the cattle-car train that transported him to the Buchenwald concentration camp when he was 14 and into the camp itself, where he was an inmate for four months. The project explores how people struggle to hold on to their humanity when surrounded by hate and fear. It also shares historical lessons in an effort to turn bystanders into upstanders who will speak out against hatred and bigotry today.

“Hope After Hate” unites students, faculty and staff from across UC, including undergraduate and graduate students majoring in E-Media, Acting, International Affairs, Political Science, Geography and History. CCM Acting Professor Susan Felder is adapting Limor’s memoir of her father’s experience into a script for the immersive play. Additionally, the “Hope After Hate” team is collaborating with CCM Lighting Design and Technology Professor Sharon Huizinga on how to create projections for the play. UC’s Center for Simulations and Virtual Environments Research (UCSIM) is building the VR experience with the 360-degree photos and videos that students captured while on the trip.

Read UC Magazine’s cover story on “Hope After Hate” to learn more about the project. Readers can also view photo galleries of images taken during the study abroad trip and watch a student-created documentary on the project.

“Hope After Hate” is sponsored by Cincinnati’s Holocaust and Humanity Center, and has already received support from private donors as well as Cincinnati’s Jewish Innovation Funds and the CCM Harmony Fund. This support offset travel expenses during the study abroad trip and funded some production expenses. However, the class is still actively collecting donations for projectors needed for the play and virtual reality equipment. Visit hopeafterhate.com for updates on the project and to learn how to get involved. 

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Alumni, Students Unite to Create Lovecraftian Halloween Experience, ‘The Other Rhine’

Each year CCM graduates thousands of students who go on to work across the country in all facets of the arts. But it sure is nice when our stars return home to share their craft.

The Other Rhine, a haunting theatrical collaboration by Know Theatre and Hit The Lights! Theater Co., features the work of CCM alumni and even some current students as they unite to create an intriguing Halloween spectacle that is unique to the Queen City.

CCM students and alumni in co-production of 'The Other Rhine' by Know Theatre and Hit The Lights.

CCM students and alumni in co-production of ‘The Other Rhine’ by Know Theatre and Hit The Lights.

Part walking tour and part haunted house, The Other Rhine guides audience members through The Mockabee and the Reliance Metal building in Cincinnati’s Brewery District to create an immersive theater experience. The show opened Friday night and runs though Halloween. It begins with an invitation:

Join us for the Bring Bellevue Brewery and Beerhall Back tour! Our Executive Director Scott Kaufman will lead you on a journey back into Cincinnati history to learn about brewing and the intriguing story of those who made beer at the old brewery.

With your help, we can bring the Bellevue Brewery back to its former glory!

“Audiences should expect to have fun, be thrilled, uncover some dark secrets of Cincinnati history and have nightmares,” said Mikayla Stanley (BFA Drama, 2011), of The Other Rhine.

Stanley founded Hit the Lights with Casey Scott Leach (BFA Drama ’10) and Kristopher Dean (BFA Drama ‘12) in 2013. The group also includes Claron Hayden (BFA Drama, 2012) and Carli Rhoades (BFA Drama, 2015). Hit The Lights’ productions typically center around shadow puppetry and use darkness and light to tell stories.

“We were interested in building an artistic agreement using the tools we learned at CCM, specifically those learned in Transmigration, the CCM student-led theatre festival held each winter that began while we were in school,” Stanley said.

After Hit the Lights’ production, “dungeon,” won Audience Pick at Know Theatre’s Cincy Fringe Festival in 2015, the two groups began to develop The Other Rhine. “The Know Theatre has created such an engaging and welcoming community atmosphere with their Fringe that we soon became friends and colleagues,” Stanley said.

Know’s Artistic Director, Andrew Hungerford (MFA Lighting Design and Technology, 2005), approached Hit the Lights with the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired concept for The Other Rhine. Neither group has done a show quite like it before.

“It’s an immersive theatrical experience that will really blur the lines between the world of the show and reality,” said Michaela Tropeano, a senior CCM Acting student involved with the show. “No two experiences at The Other Rhine will be alike. The audience is truly a piece of the puzzle.”

Like Hit the Lights, Know Theatre has several CCM alumni in its ranks including Hungerford, Design & Production Associate Sarah Beth Hall (BFA Scenic Design, 2014), Managing Director Alice Flanders (BFA Stage Management 2012) and Technical Director Nick Koehlke (CCM, 2007-12).

 There are also seven current CCM students that are cast in The Other Rhine: Tropeano and her fellow Acting majors Sarah Durham, Ryan Garrett, Spencer Lackey, Julia Netzer and Josh Reiter, as well as Musical Theatre major Marissa Hecker.

“Working with CCM students is always amazing, particularly since we all went through the same training and have the same theatrical vocabulary,” Stanley said. “The students, mainly due to the training given to them by powerhouse instructor Richard Hess, have an incredible work ethic and are game to try anything. This is especially important in a project like this, given that it is so experimental.”

Tropeano felt the same kinship with the CCM alumni that Stanley experienced with the current students.

“Our similar training and kindred dispositions make it all come together very organically,” she said. “Working with Hit the Lights has been an invaluable opportunity to see how these four years of training fare outside of CCM, and witnessing the brilliance of Hit the Lights makes me excited to know that this is only the start.”

You can see these CCM students and alumni in The Other Rhine through Halloween. For performance and ticket information, visit Know Theatre’s website at http://knowtheatre.com/the-other-rhine/.

Story by CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle

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