Public Lectures

Pre-performance talks will take place prior to the evening performances at 6pm in Artscape's Orchestra Rehearsal Room.

Tuesday 19 July - Ela Weissberger, who played the role of the Cat in all 55 Brundibár performances in Terezín, will be the special guest joining The Brundibár Project from the USA.

Wednesday 20 July - Dr Vojtěch Blodig, Deputy Director of the Terezín Memorial who will speak about “How performances of Brundibár and other artistic responses were a form of resistance in the Terezín Ghetto”.

Thursday 21
July - Aviva Pelham, Michael Mitchell and Magnet Theatre directors will talk about the productions

All are welcome to listen to the pre-performance talks, even if not attending the specific performance thereafter.


When Ela was 11, she was sent to the Nazi camp, Terezín, together with her
sister Illona and their mother. They were placed in cramped barracks where
they suffered greatly. Later the Nazis separated Ela and Ilona from their
mother and forced them to live in barracks for children.

In 1943 it was announced that the children’s opera Brundibár, was going to be
performed. Ela was cast as the Cat. There were 55 performances of the opera,
and Ela played the Cat in all 55 performances. This was not the case for many
of the other children cast- there were frequent cast changes as the Nazis sent
children away from Terezín – most to their deaths at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

On 5th May 1945, Ela, her sister and her mother, were freed.

Ela Weissberger –Holocaust Survivor and performer in the original Brundibár opera in Terezín

Ela is now in her 80s. She has never forgotten her experience of performing in Brundibár, while imprisoned in Terezín. She continues to speak about her experiences at Terezín to audiences of all ages. She explains, “When we sang, we forgot our hunger, and troubles we went through. I speak in the voices of those who couldn’t make it. I speak so we can remember them.”

Ela will attend some of the Brundibár performances at Artscape and will participate in the public lecture series. She will also speak to school children about her experience in Terezín and Brundibár.

On Sunday 24 July 2011, Ela will talk about Brundibár, its universal message, and why she still travels the world to tell her story and honour the victims of the Holocaust.

For more information, contact the Cape Town Holocaust Centre at 021 462 5553.


“The Cat with the Yellow Star – Coming of age in Terezín”,written by Susan Goldman Rubin is a book which tells Ela’s story.

  Ela Weissberger is the Cat, to the right of Brundibár, the boy with the fake moustache. This is a propaganda photograph, taken by the Nazi’s of the original Brundibár cast in Terezín.