Remembering the past with Neil Cole’s new plays

“What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past.” – Victor Hugo

For some in 2019, events of the past are still unfathomable. Even things that happened 20 years ago may seem like a lifetime to some. But there are some things that should never be forgotten.

A multi award winning playwright, Neil has had two plays performed at the Edinburgh Festival, and many performed in Australia. His newest double feature, Five Minutes to Midnight and Raoul Wallenberg Saved Me, discuss the events of the Holocaust and the stories of some who lived through this time.

Kitia Altman

“Many of my plays have been historical, many about mental illness, politics and comedies” says Neil, who himself works within research fields of mental illness and schizophrenia at Melbourne University.

The first play, Five Minutes To Midnight, is centered around a real-life survivor of the Holocaust, Kitia Altman. With newer generations getting further and further away from the events of the war, Five Minutes To Midnight addresses the importance of staying informed of the past.

He was inspired to write the double feature because of his personal connection to the stories – “I knew Kitia Altman, a holocaust survivor, and wanted to write about her. The second play is about Raoul Wallenberg and wanted to tell his story along with Prof. Vajda who was saved by him.”

The second play, Raoul Wallenberg Saved Me, focuses on a professor whose life was saved by the titular Raoul. An icon of World War 2 history, Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish architect and businessman who saved tens of thousands of Jewish people in Nazi-occupied Hungary.

On why audiences should see both plays, Neil said “both plays touch upon issues of profound importance including indifference, the Banality of Evil, the importance of history, how to keep the younger generations interest in the Holocaust, the value of the personal story.”

Five Minutes To Midnight and Raoul Wallenberg Saved Me will run from November 27 to December 8th at Chapel off Chapel, Melbourne.

For tickets and more information please visit the Chapel off Chapel website.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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