The Thieves of Dreams

TD Discovery Series Special Projects
Date: 
Sun Apr 26 8:00pm
Ticket Price: 
$20 door / $15 advance / $10 Music Gallery members & students
Ticket Information: 
Doors open at 7:30 pm

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED. New date information will be posted when available.

Developed by Lenka Lichtenberg and directed by Leah Cherniak, The Thieves of Dreams (lenkalichtenberg.com/the-thieves-of-dreams) was originally envisioned as a concert and a recording. But the idea of musical settings for Anna Hana Friesova’s poems grew to a dream of a stage production. The backstory of when, how and why her poems were written, and the sheer amount of material - 66 poems- demand that the piece lives in a richer artistic format. Hence, the production combines several expressive forms and genres as a theatre concert with music and songs, spoken word, movement, sound art, improvisation, audience participation, as well as contemporary and historic visual arts and projections.

The texts at the core of the production are recently found poems of Lenka Lichtenberg’s grandmother, Anna Hana Friesova, or ‘Ch 17’ to the Nazi regime. Most were written between the years 1942-1945 in the concentration camp Terezin (Theresienstadt), with some written in the late 1930s. The poems are raw, honest, surprising. Many are love poems written to a secret lover. She talks of not being heard or seen; of her impotence compared to the strength of men; of abandonment; solitude - and even hope. While the Holocaust provides a haunting, dark backdrop to the poems, her stirring words speak mostly to relationships. Only occasionally does the poetess bring attention to the atmosphere of despair and the realities of life and death in the camps, and her longing for freedom.

The song settings of the poems were commissioned through a grant from the Ontario Arts Council. The core works of the production mark an essential Canadian / Czech Republic collaboration between the two principal songwriters - the Czech-born Canadian Lenka Lichtenberg and Milli Janatkova from the Czech Republic. Additional songwriters are Jessica Hana Deutsch, Zita Petrak, Rachel Cohen, Shy-Anne Hovorka and Lorie Wolf.

May 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, and with it the liberation of concentration camps including Terezin where Anna Hana was incarcerated.

The Thieves of Dreams Creative Team

  • Lenka Lichtenberg: song and poem settings, incidental music composition and recording, sound art. In performance: singer/ actor, keys, harmonium, live loops
  • Milli Janatkova: song settings, visual arts. In performance: singer/ actor, guitar, percussion, live loops, dance, improvisation
  • Jessica Hana Deutsch: song settings, incidental music composition and recording. In performance: violin, viola, mandolin, live loops, improvisation, singer / actor
  • Leah Cherniak: director
  • Lumir Hladik: projections, photography

Presented as part of the TD Discovery Series Special Projects.

Lenka Lichtenberg is a singer, composer, arranger and bandleader born in Prague. She spent her childhood years in the immensely popular musical theatre Semafor. She studied voice at the Prague Music Conservatory, and once in Canada, received her Masters degree in Ethnomusicology at York University. After releasing three albums as a solo artist, Lenka co-founded the Yiddish swing all-female group Sisters of Sheynville, with whom she performed across Canada, in the U.S. and Europe. In 2010, she founded her band Fray and recorded two albums of original music, fusing her own Eastern European roots with the band members’ diverse cultural sensibilities. In Europe, Lenka performs with a Prague-based group. She tours internationally, presenting concerts in venues such as the The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; Festival Singera in Warsaw, Poland; Klezfiesta in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Yiddish Poetry Festival in Tel Aviv; Abu Ghosh Vocal Festival in Israel; Hugh’s Room and the TD Toronto Jazz Festival in Canada. Lenka has released seven solo albums and several collaborations with international artists such as Yair Dalal, Tomas Reindl, Andrew MacPherson, and Roula Said. She has received multiple awards, including two Canadian Folk Music Awards (2007, 2012), an Independent Music Award (2018) and Global Music Award (2019). For her album "Songs for the Breathing Walls", Lenka recorded Hebrew liturgy in 12 synagogues across the Czech Republic with a cast of international artists. The project was the focus of a TV documentary film by Jaroslav Hovorka, broadcast on Czech television. Lenka’s latest albums "MASARYK" (2017) and "Yiddish Journey" (2018) were released on the U.K. label ARC Music.

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