by Mark Hayhurst

directed by Michael Fera

A United Players of Vancouver production

at Jericho Arts Centre

Novemer 3 - 26, 2017






Spotlight Article by Sabrina Furminger

Love, hope, fascism, and forces of history collide in Taken at Midnight, Mark Hayhurst’s gripping, based-on-a-true-story drama about a determined lawyer and his courageous mother caught in a Nazi nightmare.

In 1931, celebrated Berlin lawyer Hans Litten summons Adolf Hitler to the witness stand and subjects the future Führer to a grueling cross-examination about his role in an act of political violence committed by Nazi Brown Shirts. Two years later, on the night of the Reichstag fire – a paradigm-shifting event that solidifies Hitler’s power – Hans is arrested by the Nazis and becomes widely known as Hitler’s Personal Prisoner.

This designation means that Hans endures constant and acutely brutal abuse from his Nazi captors – and while Hans strives to keep his sanity and sense of self in a series of harsh Nazi prisons and, ultimately, the notorious Dachau concentration camp, his mother, Irmgard, dedicates her days to earning Hans’ freedom. Irmgard makes herself a thorn in the side of a Nazi bureaucrat, and holds tight to her belief in, and love for, her son.

Taken at Midnight shines a spotlight on a profound story from 20th century history, and emphasizes the timelessness of love, integrity, hope, and resistance.

The true story behind Taken at Midnight has gone largely untold until now, according to Michael Fera, director of United Players’ production. “Not a lot of people know about Hans Litten, and it actually hasn’t been until the last ten years or so that his story has come to the forefront, thanks Mark Hayhurst, the playwright, who is fascinated with this man,” says Fera, noting that Hayhurst has produced a couple of documentaries about Litten, in addition to his 2014 play.

At the play’s heart is “a story about a mother’s love for her son,” says Fera, as well as elements (including the rising tide of fascism) that are relevant today. “There are passages that sound straight out of what we read every day coming out of the States, and around the world,” says Fera. “There couldn’t be a better time to do this play. People are living it now, again. History is repeating itself in many ways.”

Fera is full of praise for his cast, including Suzanne Ristic as Irmgard (“She is just commanding the role”), Brian Hinson as the Gestapo bureaucrat Dr. Conrad (“Conrad believes in the movement, and yet at the same time he’s fascinated by the mother. He’s drawn into her story, and in his own way, he’s trying to help Hans and his plight. Brian gives an amazing performance”), and Sean Anthony as Litten, who Fera describes as throwing himself into a highly demanding role. “Not only does the actor playing Hans have to have this enormous emotional journey, there’s a tremendous physical journey that the actor goes through,” says Fera. “We see Hans’ life in a very concentrated, intense five-year period. In those five years, all he knows is the concentration camps, and that takes a toll on him mentally, physically, and emotionally.”

For Fera, Taken at Midnight is primarily “about hope. It shows the tremendous ability of the human spirit not to give up until the very end. This is a grim subject matter, absolutely, but there is hope. There’s actually humour in the play. It’ll be an amazing evening of theatre. Theatre for me is this communion between the audience and the actor, and this show definitely has it.

United Players’ production of Taken at Midnight features Sean Anthony as Hans Litten, Suzanne Ristic as Irmgard Litten, Brian Hinson as Dr. Conrad, Douglas Abel as Fritz Litten, John Harris as Lord Clifford Allen, Richard Hersley as Erich Muhsam, and Michael Kahn as Carl von Ossietzky, and showcases Jake Anthony, Michael Lang, and Max Smith in multiple roles.

The production team includes Michael Fera (Director), Andree Karas (Artistic Director), Linda Begg (Producer), Seamus Fera (Assistant Director), Allyson Fournier (Set Designer), Michael Methot (Lighting Designer), Kate Pierre (Costume Designer), Kanon Hewitt (Sound Designer), Frances Herzer (Props Designer), Jasmin Sandhu (Stage Manager), Mike Kovacs (Fight Choreographer), Bruce Suttie (Stage Carpenter), Isabella Halladay (Vocal Coach), Ben Clark (Props Assistant), Jenny Craig (Volunteer Coordinator), Adam Henderson (Dialect Coach), and Anna Nebolsina (Assistant Stage Manager).           

Michael Fera’s favourite directing credits include Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding (Vancouver, Seattle, Winnipeg, Edmonton), Dancing in the Light at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Alleycats, the 2003/04 Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Balthazar and the Mojo Star, three heads talking, The Belle of Amherst, Macbeth, Life After Hockey, and the Canadian premieres of Corpus Christi, Molly Sweeney, and Alistaire Elliot’s translation of Medea. For nine years, Michael was an executive director with the Ailanthus Achievement Centre and he is a recipient of the 40 Under 40 Business in Vancouver Award. Michael is co-artistic director of Hoarse Raven Theatre; together, Michael and the company have received a number of Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nominations (Significant Artistic Achievement, Outstanding Production and Outstanding Performance). Michael directed The Herbal Bed, Tartuffe, Boston Marriage, Ghosts, and The Imaginary Invalid for United Players.

Mark Hayhurst is a UK-based television producer, screenwriter and playwright. His television credits include 37 Days (BBC2), Hans Litten vs Adolf Hitler: To Stop A Tyrant (BBC2), Terror! Robespierre and the French Revolution (BBC2), London's Burning (Juniper Communications for Channel 4), The Man Who Crossed Hitler (BBC2), The Difficult Birth of the NHS (BBC2), and The Somme (Darlow-Smithson for Channel 4). Taken at Midnight marked Hayhurst’s debut as a playwright; the drama had its world premiere at the Chichester Festival Theatre in October 2014 and transferred to the West End in January 2015. Taken at Midnight picked up three Olivier nominations, including for Best New Play and Best Actress for Penelope Wilton's role as Irmgard.

-With files from Curtis Brown and Wikipedia


At the Jericho Arts Centre - 1675 Discovery (near Jericho Beach)


Thursday through Sunday, at 8 pm
(2pm only on November 12, 19 & 26)

$12 Preview: Novemer 2
Talkback: November 9

Matinees: November 12, 19 & 26 at 2pm
(no evening performances on those dates)

Single Tickets: $20 - $26

Jericho Arts Centre

1675 Discovery Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6R 4K5

TICKETS: Online or call 604 224 8007, ext. 2

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