In 1943, Henry Newman was a prisoner at a labor camp in Budzyn, Poland. Knowing he had studied theater, the camp’s commandant asked the 21-year-old to stage a play with prisoners as the actors. There was one more thing: The play better make him laugh; Newman’s life depended on it.

“I’ll tell you what I want to do. I want a little humor in this camp, real humor, Jewish humor, so I want you to stage a show, and it better be good,” the commandant told Newman. “Make us all laugh and if you don’t, I’ll hang you upside down.”

What happened next? You’ll have to see the play about the play, “Budzyn,” which premieres with a single performance May 6 at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre.

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“Budzyn,” May 6 at 8 p.m. at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre. Call 617-496-2222 or visit

created at: 2010-04-30

Above, Holocuast survivor Henry Newman.