Russell Kaback’s Holocaust musical debuts at PortFringe 2021
Hamilton meets Maus as Maine musician and educator Russell Kaback performs a one-man show at this year’s PortFringe all-video festival on June 12, 13, 16 and 19.
With touches of rock, jazz, reggae and Judaic music, this timely work tells the true story of Kaback’s own grandfather, Yehoshua Magier, who was a teenager in the Polish town of Bendzin when the Nazis showed up and eliminated a centuries-old thriving community in the span of only four years.
The 20-minute video titled “Holocaust Storyteller Chapter 1: The Hero of Our Story” was completed and uploaded to this year’s online-only festival on the same day that the last remaining survivor in Kaback’s family circle, his grandmother’s dear friend Eva, passed away, highlighting the continued importance of telling these stories to new generations.
The seeds of this work originated in 2009, as Kaback sat with his grandfather between the smokestacks and the enormous mound of human ash at the death camp Majdanek in Poland, and made the decision that he would tell his family story, through music.
As an educator and a Maine Arts Commission teaching artist, Kaback has been sharing this work in classrooms over the past 5 years, and now presents the first chapter to the public as one of 21 short films at this year’s 10th annual PortFringe festival based in Portland, Maine.