Baltimore Theater Arts Project

Total Verrückt!

Joanna Caplan

Thu December 3 - Sun December 6

Created and performed by Joanna Caplan, Total Verrückt! tells the story of the world-renowned Jewish cabaret performers held in the Dutch transit camp of Westerbork from 1942-44. Taking its name from the Camp Westerbok Theatre Group's final production and inspired by the diaries of Jewish-Dutch poet Etty Hillesum, cabaret stars Max Ehrlich, Johnny & Jones, and Dora Gerson, Total Verrückt! asks questions about the necessity of art as a means of survival and an act of resistance.

"Embodying the spirit of multiple artists, let alone multiple characters is a considerable feat, and Caplan deftly performs with the wide-ranging skills of the Westerbork Theatre members." -- City Paper (Click here to read full review)

"Total Verruckt! is simultaneously beautiful, sad, and inspiring. Go see it while you can." -- DC Metro Theater Arts (Click here to read full review)

Joanna Caplan developed Total Verrückt! in residency at Double Edge Theatre’s Farm Center in Ashfield, Massachusetts, in collaboration with Double Edge Theatre Co-Artistic Director Matthew Glassman (Total Verrückt! Director) and Resident Artist Sarah Cormier (Total Verrückt! Designer). Her creation process combines Double Edge’s immersive physical and visual training methodology with research on the legacy of Jewish artists as a way of accessing her own ancestral memory. In weaving together stories and characters connected to pre-war Germany, the Weimar Republic and the height of the German Cabaret, Total Verrückt! explores the Jewish imagination in the context of a world at war, examining how we live through and transcend strange and dark times.


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Art and Survival: A Conversation with Joanna Caplan, Creator and Performer of ‘Total Verruckt!’

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Total Verruckt! presents the real-life story of members of the Camp Westerbork Theatre Group, an unlikely troupe that was formed at the Westerbork Transit Camp – a Nazi transport and detention center in the Occupied Netherlands during World War II. From 1942 to 1944, alongside thousands of other prisoners, some of the day’s most talented and famous Jewish actors, singers, writers and (more…)

"Total Verrückt!" pays tribute to art during the Holocaust at Baltimore Theatre Project

Many artists say they create to survive. Of course, “survive” here doesn’t mean to earn a living, but to persevere through the weight of the world, to find meaning in life. This was true of artists held in transit camps during the Holocaust, but perseverance was only the half of it. In the Dutch transit camp Westerbork, performers put on shows not only to uplift their fellow prisoners, but to delay their transport to the death camps. It wasn’t just about living; it was about not dying.


Cabaret at Holocaust camp reenacted in one-woman show

Joanna Caplan’s ‘Total Verrückt!’ shows how prisoners at Westerbork — a Dutch way station to Auschwitz — performed as an act of survival, resistance

BALTIMORE — Seventy years after the Holocaust ended, artist Joanna Caplan is using the stage to revisit that tragic period in human history in a rather unconventional way.  Inspired by the diaries of Jewish-Dutch poet and writer Etty Hillesum, Caplan explores in a new one-woman play life in the (more…)