"… but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." – Isaiah 41:30 (KJV)
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A Milestone for Saving Sara

July 30, 2022, a blistering hot Saturday, will be a day I will always remember. Saving Sara, a one-act play based on my young adult historical novel, The Little Lion: A Hero in the Holocaust, was performed at North Courthouse Road Library in Chesterfield County, Virginia. The response to Matt Hackman’s brilliant portrayal of nine different male characters was an elongated standing ovation.

Saving Sara at the Library
Matt Hackman rehearses 

What followed was an extended question-and-answer session. Matt joined me and Una Harrison, co-author of the play, and her husband, David, our props manager, and Steve King, our technical advisor and genius sound man. Steve had accompanied Matt’s every move with sound effects and perfect timing, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, until the play ended in birdsong mingled with gunshots. It was extremely rewarding to have almost 80 individuals come out on a late afternoon to attend the play and stay for over a half hour asking questions of the team I have dubbed The Faithful Five. I chose that name for the group that has been dedicated to the play’s completion, including the writing, directing and producing of the play, including a video version filmed at Westminster Canterbury in 2018.

The Faithful Five pause for a photo among the costumes that Matt Hackman had worn and discarded during the play, as he morphed into nine different characters.
(L-R standing)  David and Una Harrison, Nancy Wright Beasley, Steve King (Seated) Matt Hackman
During a talk back with the audience, Matt Hackman describes how he
prepared for depicting the nine characters he portrays in Saving Sara.

Many thanks to Swift Creek Mill Theatre for providing some of the costumes for Saving Sara, along with Steve Koehler, managing director of SCMT, who allowed us to use his personal rosary, a gift from his mother. Of special note among the play attendees was Lynne Bland, curriculum specialist for secondary social studies in Chesterfield County Public Schools, who helped orchestrate the Upstanders Project for Chutzpah and Courage in Chesterfield County public schools. Also special was the attendance of Dr. Mervin Daugherty, superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools, along with his wife, Kim. Here are some thoughts shared with me from individuals who saw the show:

Saving Sara Audience - North Courthouse Road Library

I felt the play was enlightening and provided some inside knowledge of this very difficult time in world history. I appreciate the effort to keep history alive for the next generation.
~ Dr. Mervin Daugherty, Superintendent, Chesterfield County Public Schools

Saving Sara was truly insightful and very informative. As a one-man show, it was exceptionally well done and left the audience with many things to ponder.
~ Rev. Dr. R. Franklin Gillis (UMC ret.)

Saving Sara, a play that thrusts us into a village as the Holocaust unfolds, accomplishes in 30 minutes of live theater what The Book Thief does not do in 600 pages. In the hands of school theater productions, Saving Sara will bring audiences, young and old alike, face to face with the courage it takes to crash through the darkness of fear and moral paralysis that allows hate to grow.
~ Jeff Peyton

Saving Sara held my attention throughout. The story and its messages of courage and compassion, and the destruction that hate brings, are necessary for school-age children to witness.
~ Rita Peyton

Recently I had the honor of being invited to see a performance of Saving Sara at the local library. The material is powerfully written and performed by a single (but multi-dimensional) actor playing all the roles. Think about that: one actor, nine roles. To my surprise, Saving Sara brought the history of the Holocaust right into the library in 2022. I kept thinking to myself, “Students need to see this performance that makes history come alive and links the audience directly to this dark time.” A few paragraphs in a textbook are simply not enough to stir the compassion and understanding of young people to continue ensuring history does not repeat itself.
~ Debra M. Girvin, President, Lochlyn Company

I was also very pleased when Dr. Daugherty attended a presentation given by Pam Rockenbach Plahs at Brandermill Rotary Club the following week. Pam shared an extensive and impressive display of photographs she took while on a tour of Europe this past summer researching Holocaust history. Her topic was “Upstanders and Bystanders in the Holocaust.” Pam teaches social studies at Swift Creek Middle School and is the department chair as well. She is the lead teacher of the Upstanders Project at SCMS, where Saving Sara is part of the curriculum.

(Top & Bottom Left) Pam Plah's Presentation - Brandermill Rotary
(Bottom Right) Dr. Mervin Daugherty

Pam’s presentation was important to Brandermill Rotary, where I’ve been a member for 16 years. I had applied for grant funding, and they had previously designated $1,500 to Chutzpah and Courage. Of those funds, $500 was given to Pam for travel and $1,000 will be used to set up a bookcase with the beginnings of a library for Holocaust materials in her classroom. A Brandermill member, who wishes to remain anonymous, has donated an additional $500 to help purchase books and other materials for the library.

I spoke at Western Henrico Rotary Club recently and introduced the members to Saving Sara. I shared my polio experience with them and explained that Saving Sara is also used to raise funds for PolioPlus, Rotary International’s program to eradicate polio through free inoculations to children throughout the world. They are considering hosting an upcoming program to raise funds for PolioPlus. Recently polio has become a concern in the United States as well, at least in New York.

In my latest newsletter, I reported that I had won a first-place award in the Virginia Professional Communicators competition for a 2021 Chutzpah and Courage newsletter I wrote. The newsletter also won an honorable mention in national competition sponsored by the National Federation of Press Women at their conference in North Dakota in May.

Fall is now upon us, punctuating the last throes of summer with some cool days, and inspiring me with its crisp air, brilliant oranges and deep purple hues spreading through the trees. I feel like God is treating us to a final gift of beauty just before the dormant season of winter settles in. I’m never ready for the cold but — like life — it comes whether we’re ready or not. At present, I’m looking back at the last few months and enjoying the memories of new friends.

In the previous newsletter, I reported that I had attended a Rotary International conference in Houston, Texas, in May where I met and became friends with Aloyce Urassa, a young Rotarian from Kilimanjaro, who was attending his first RI convention. We spent a lot of time together.

Since then, I’ve learned from Aloyce that he posted a photo on Instagram of me gifting him with copies of Izzy’s Fire and The Little Lion. The photo was then picked up by Shekhar Mehta of India, Rotary International’s outgoing president. The president’s photo went around the world on his Instagram site, a perfect example of how the friendship of Rotary crosses all boundaries and continents to join us in shared humanity.

Nancy presenting Aloyce with her books at Rotary International convention in Houston

I’m re-using a wonderful quote that Tina Tapp posted on her Facebook page some time back. Tina was the first teacher to start offering my young adult historical novel, The Little Lion: A Hero in the Holocaust, in her English classes at Radford High School about five years ago. She was the lead teacher for the Upstanders Project when it began in 2018, working with Lynne Bland and Pam Plahs, who are continuing to work hard and expand the project at Swift Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County.

Tina recently became the assistant principal at Louisa Middle School. We wish her nothing but the best on her upward journey, knowing that her heart is always in the right place…with every student she meets.

Recommended Reading
On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life by John O’Leary may be the most inspirational book I’ve ever read about one human being overcoming almost certain death. I won’t spoil it for you; however, it is a book that will make you cry, with anguish and with joy, about how a 9-year-old boy was burned over his entire body and wasn’t expected to live. He did, though, and has become one of the best-known international motivational speakers of all time. This book will change your life. If it doesn’t, you might want to read it again…slowly.
Upcoming Events
I have agreed to be a speaker in the spring of 2023 for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Osher operates through the University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies. The date of my program will be announced later. Speaking at Osher is but one of the many presentations that I will continue to offer as I represent Chutzpah and Courage, which I am always encouraged to do when I receive your generous donations. Thank you for all that you do to encourage me, in words and in deeds. As we near the end of the year, I’d appreciate your consideration for a tax-deductible donation on Giving Tuesday (November 29, 2022) to
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September 29, 2022
Copyright © 2022 Nancy Wright Beasley, All rights reserved.

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