#9 Bergen-Belsen

This evening I’ve returned home feeling upset and slightly hopeless even.

Today we visited the concentration camp and memorial in Lohheide (Northern Germany) called Bergen-Belsen. At least 50,000 died here in unfathomable ways. 

Amongst the 50,000 were children, mothers, fathers and grandparents. All of whom had hopes and dreams until their lives were destroyed. They were either kept on prisoner of war camps, or concentration camps. Many prisoners had been horrifically transported from one camp to be faced with another ordeal.

One of which prisoners, being Anne Frank. An excerpt of her diary entry described how she was led to believe nothing could be worse than Auschwitz where she had just been. 

Upon arrival at Bergen-Belsen she was deceived by hearing beautiful birds singing and spotted trees, completely unaware it was another camp and where she would later die.

It was strange when I walked around the cemetery. There were trees everywhere, the sun looked beautiful and there were birds tweeting. How could a place with such history seem so peaceful.

After walking around the museum and seeing collections of prisoners possessions, reading detailed accounts of happenings at the camp and mass graves my heart felt really heavy. 

I felt as though I couldn’t read or see anymore, but then I realised how that would be really ignorant of me. As learning about these historical events is really important. 

These feelings are the same I felt after visiting the Killing Fields in Cambodia where at least 1million Cambodians were massacred under the Khmer Rouge. It’s also how I feel after watching the news and hearing about what’s going on in many places of the world.

But what can I do? I can’t change anything. I admire those who are humanitarians and activists who are fighting for changes. I wish there was a button that could be pressed which would eradicate hatred and all things dark. 

These places leave me feeling incomprehensible, and I try and take what I can.

I’m reminded by how unbelievably lucky most are and how much we take for granted.

 A lot of us are rich, rich with health, rich with family and friends, rich with a roof over our heads, a job and more than enough foods and fancies. However it’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget. 

Although I can’t do anything to change the evil that exists in the world, a small thing I can  do is be as kind as possible, grateful and continue to spread as much love. And to try to not complain about the most trivial of things, because things are actually really, really good.

I genuinely believe there is more good in the world than bad, unfortunately with media intercepting every moment with negativity, we’re led to believe the world is more awful than not. 

I guess all I can do is try, try my best to be as good as a person as possible, in all the little ways. Tonight I’m left feeling more grateful than ever.

Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. 

-An inspiring Mother Teresa quote that my mum always reminds me of.


#8 Moments to remember 

On Saturday we performed our shows to the company for the first time. We had a full audience! It was finally the moment to present our month of hard work off.

The nerves I felt before were overridden with excitement, I guess because it’s been such a while since I’ve performed I was more excited to get on with it rather than nervous.

It all went so well, we had so many laughs at so many unexpected moments. There were lots of bits improvised that weren’t thought of in rehearsals, but once infront of an audience and feeling the energy it felt perfect.

Nothing could beat the feeling I felt once we finished both shows and took our bows and everyone clapped. I was left full of adrenaline for quite a while and I was shaking with happiness. It’s like I was suddenly dancing with the stars and I felt so alive. I can’t really explain it, apart from knowing I was answering my calling.

Since then we’ve began touring in Northern Germany. I finally feel like I’m proud of myself and I’m remembering to measure all my small successes.

Small successes such as making an audience laugh lots this morning…and knowing that this is the first piece of live theatre for a lot of these children.

One thing I’m realising is how endearing and adorable six year olds can be.

After the show yesterday the children queued up for our autographs on little cards they had prepared for us.

A little blonde girl walked up with a grin on her face, however no piece of paper for me to write on. She then brushed her fringe out the way and handed me a green felt tip pen and pointed to her forehead. I said ink isn’t very good to skin so I couldn’t sign her forehead, unfortunately she then threw a tantrum and started crying.

However, they’re so sweet! Another child told me I had a really pretty singing voice.

There’s a scene in the play where I look out ‘at Sea’ through a telescope and the children are just amazed, they start waving back at me and get excited.

After a performance I was carrying parts of the set from the stage to load the van and a group of girls were following me back and forth.

‘Monica (my character) do you have a boyfriend?’

‘Monica what is your favourite colour?’

‘Monica do you like cats or dogs?’

‘Monica do you like Germans?’

‘Monica, do you like unicorns?’

‘Monica, how old are you?’- The question that gets the biggest reaction I’ve come to find.

One of the girls came and stood beside me, just to identify how much taller she was at a fraction of my age.

I’m loving everything so far and I’m trying to remind myself how lucky I am to be doing this.

(Especially needed when we have 5am starts!)

I’m sitting playing scrabble with a lovely bottle of €2 red wine and couldn’t be any more content.