Tyler Ellman will never forget how he felt standing at Auschwitz.
“It changed my entire perspective on life, on history, on the world and on my faith,” Ellman, a UF theatre and telecommunication senior, said.
After returning from the March of the Living trip, where thousands of Jewish teens marched from the Auschwitz concentration camp to the Birkenau camp, Ellman began working on his play, which will debut tonight at High Dive, located at 210 SW 2nd Ave.
The play, “Tap Dancing Through Auschwitz,” will run today and Tuesday, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and the play beginning at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $6 to $12.
Ellman said the play is about six high school students who visit Auschwitz to learn more about their ancestors. The title refers to one character’s nervous fidget, expressed through tapping his foot when in an uncomfortable situation.
“Before going on the trip, I was going through a lot,” Ellman, 22, said. “You start to really look at life a different way when you’re having issues that are so real, and then you’re put into a whirlwind of a crazy absurd place like Auschwitz.”
The play’s director, Steven Breiter, helped Ellman revise the script during the four years Ellman spent writing. Breiter said the play would be good for the Jewish community.
“(It’s) a metaphor for how all these kids on this trip are uncomfortable and going through a tough time learning about their ancestors,” Breiter said.
Ellman fundraised to rent the High Dive space with support from five different Jewish student organizations, including the UF Jewish Student Union, Lubavitch Chabad Jewish Center, UF Hillel and Alpha Epsilon Phi. He also received support from the Jewish Council of North Central Florida, Ellman said.
All of the proceeds from the play will be donated to the Arab American Community Center of Florida, an organization that helps Iraqi and Syrian refugee families, Ellman said. He said people say “never again” about the Holocaust, but must also focus on current injustices.
“Don’t be a bystander, make your voice heard, take action,” he said.