Maya McCobbina, (left, with cast members Bria Pickering and Kate Spratt) plays Mrs. Kohn in Surrey Youth Theatre Company’s production of Irene N. Watts’ Good-Bye Marianne, which is available for online streaming June 11-13 and June 19-20. Contributed photo

Maya McCobbina, (left, with cast members Bria Pickering and Kate Spratt) plays Mrs. Kohn in Surrey Youth Theatre Company’s production of Irene N. Watts’ Good-Bye Marianne, which is available for online streaming June 11-13 and June 19-20. Contributed photo

Holocaust-themed play, presented by Surrey Youth Theatre, has White Rock connection

Uplifting drama is offered as an online presentation June 11 and 13

Surrey Youth Theatre Company (SYTCO) is offering a powerful – yet ultimately hopeful and uplifting – drama about the Holocaust as its virtual main stage production for this season.

Good-Bye, Marianne by Irene N. (Kirstein) Watts, directed by SYTCO founder and artistic director Susan Pendleton and assisted by Marina Cyr, will be available for online streaming from June 11 to 13, and June 18 to 19.

There’s something that also seems very right about the South Surrey-based company tackling this particular play, as the author, now 90, was a long-time resident of White Rock from the 1970s to the 1990s.

During her time in the city, Watts – named a life member of the Playwrights’ Guild of Canada in 2001 – directed some nine shows for White Rock Players Club, starting with Of Mice and Men in 1979 and concluding with The Night of the Iguana in 1994.

It’s also highly serendipitous, in that the German-born Canadian writer and educator (she earned degrees in English literature and modern history at Cardiff University) has been a champion of theatre for children and youth throughout her career – which included founding the Young Neptune touring company and helped establish the Neptune Theatre School in Halifax, N.S., and also becoming founding director of the Vancouver International Children’s Festival.

Good-Bye Marianne, first produced by Carousel Children’s Theatre in Vancouver, in 1994, is a one-act adaptation by Watts of her own novella.

It was inspired by own experiences – and those of friends and other young people in Berlin – who were forced to flee Germany in 1938, when she was only seven, as part of the Kindertransport evacuation of Jewish children.

“I didn’t know that she used to live here when I selected the play,” Pendleton admitted. “But it’s fabulous that it’s also a White Rock story.”

“I wanted something serious and impactful, something for a small, small cast, that would work online, with no set and minimal costuming,” she said, adding that older girls of her senior company had also been looking to do more serious and challenging material.

“I had them read several things, but this is one where the casting worked and when we read through it, it was a good fit for the company.”

Rehearsed via Zoom – as all SYTCO classes have been conducted this year – the 43-minute, one-act show was recorded with full COVID-19 distancing protocols at Peninsula Productions’ black box theatre in Centennial Park.

“I’m glad we went very small with Zoom this year, rather than going big and having to close it down at some point,” Pendleton added, noting that, while the learning curve for creating online theatre has been steep, it has provided some advantages and options she’d like to keep in SYTCO’s repertoire even after a post-COVID return to normal theatre production.

Good-Bye Marianne is set in the days immediately following the Nazi-fostered Night of the Broken Glass (November 9, 1938), after which it became clear there was no safe haven left in Germany for the Jewish population and families struggled to find ways to get their children out of the country, particularly through the Kindertransport underground rescue mission.

Young Marianne Kohn (Ruby Forte) arrives a few minutes late to school one morning to find that Jewish students are no longer permitted to attend. On her way home she makes an unexpected friend, Ernst (Bria Pickering). But the friendship soon founders when he discovers she is Jewish – and she discovers he is a member of the Hitler Youth.

Though Mrs. Kohn (played by Maya McCobbina) wants to shield and protect Marianne from the truth of the danger they are in, the time for honesty has come. She reveals to Marianne that her father (Harrison MacDonald) is not away on business as Marianne has been led to believe, but actually hiding from the Gestapo after escaping a Nazi prison camp where he was nearly beaten to death.

While Marianne must contemplate leaving behind everyone and everything she has known to escape to Canada, an unexpected gift helps her see that all people are not the same, and renews her hope for the future.

Also appearing as friend Inge, and the school secretary, is Kate Spratt.

Pendleton notes that guest actor MacDonald, who also appears in the role of Mr. Altman, is actually the son of Peninsula Productions’ executive director, Janet Ellis, who had originally volunteered to help with camera.

“Janet – and Peninsula Productions – have been very good to us in helping get this produced,” Pendleton acknowledged.

Tickets for the online production are $7 plus a service fee.

To access the stream visit


Just Posted

Gerry Vowles (left), Michael Cook, and Dave Sinclair were awarded “Dominion Command Presidential Citations” June 17 in Cloverdale. The rare awards were given out for “exemplary service to the Legion.” (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Three B.C. legionnaires awarded ‘Presidential Citations’

Ceremony took place in Cloverdale June 17

A cache of 89 crabs was discovered during a 2018 compliance inspection at South Surrey’s Elgin Park Marina. (Contributed photo)
$7,500 fine for illegal crab harvest discovered in South Surrey

Laird Goddyn found guilty in Surrey Provincial Court following 2018 investigation

City of Surrey photo
Surrey starts Slow Streets pilot project

Speed limits have been reduced in six Surrey neighbourhood zones for one year to monitor impact on residents

Kaushal Parikh raised $2,840 for COVID-19 relief in India during his almost nine-hour run around the new North Delta Secondary School track on Sunday, June 13, 2021. (Submitted photo)
North Delta ultramarathoner raises over $2,800 for COVID relief in India

Kaushal Parikh ran the 90-km virtual Comrades Marathon around the NDSS track in under nine hours

Gymnast Shallon Olsen. (Photo:
Olympics-bound Surrey gymnast Shallon Olsen enters sports hall of fame – in Coquitlam

She was the youngest member of Team Canada when she made her Olympic debut at Rio 2016

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

Most Read