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When The Beams Creak

German Federal Archive / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license

Everyone from the chef with a soufflé in the oven to the kid playing double-dutch on the playground knows the importance of timing.

Playwright Douglas Anderson tightens dramatic tension with the title of his play The Beams are Creaking, which was actually a password used by members of a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Anderson's play examines the exploits of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor and pacifist theologian who worked for the German resistance and was jailed and later executed for his efforts in the conspiracy.

In an interview with Seattle Times theatre critic Misha Berson, Anderson elaborated on the significance the password held for the conspirators: “Their thought was, you kill Hitler too early in his regime, then another Hitler may take his place. You also shouldn’t wait too late, until the war ends and the country might be overrun by the Russians. When the beams creak is when the roof is making noises like it’s about to cave in. People are becoming aware, and it’s the right time then to act.”

The takeaway from a show like this, Anderson emphasizes, is that, “You can’t profess what you believe only on Sunday, you have to act on your beliefs. That transcends any particular religion. It’s why his story is meaningful worldwide.”

Bonhoeffer died on April 9, 1945, at Flossenbürg concentration camp. It was just one month later that Hitler committed suicide and Germany surrendered.

The Beams are Creaking is on stage at Guild Hall, St. James Episcopal Church, from May 21st to May 24th.