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Broken Instruments

Live Show - At the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 21st – 25th August 2023 
Venue 236, The Olive Studio, Greenside Infirmary Street, EH1 1LT.  Start Time - 16:20

Written by William Varnam 

Music and Lyrics by Phil Baggaley and Mark Edwards 

Directed by Daniel Ellis

Broken Instruments is a story of survival, made possible through the power of music. 

Broken Instruments is a unique storytelling and musical experience. Told through the writings of fictitious character, Ari Vander, it chronicles true events which took place during the Holocaust, and which made survival possible through the power of music. Broken Instrumentshelps keep alive, the stories of suffering, gross injustices and prejudice which still permeate society today. Broken Instruments is, essentially, a story of optimism and hope for a better future.

The idea for this creative work came from accomplished musician and songwriter Phil Baggaley. He invited veteran actor and writer William Varnam to work with him to produce a story and script. With newcomer singer songwriter Nina Blaszczyk, they became newly formed as Broken Instruments and are appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the first time together this year. The show premiered with sell out performances at the DEDA Theatre in Derby. Invitations have come from a wide range of regional venues, which have included a Multi-Faith Centre, a Synagogue and the National Holocaust Centre and Museum.

“The live performance on Roma Sinti Holocaust Memorial Day, superseded expectations. The hauntingly beautiful songs and music echoed emotively around the Pears Memorial Hall, captivating the audience and staff alike. The performance was a myriad of emotion and well deserving of the standing ovation.” – National Holocaust Centre and Museum.

Broken Instruments is a story inspired by the book “Violins of Hope” by James A. Grymes  and although told through the writings of an imagined character, the events to which he relates, actually happened.


Available to buy and download directly from our website.

Inspired by love and his passion for music, Ari Vander charges through life wowing audiences with his sublime violin playing. By the mid-1930's, Ari’s love for Jazz grows whilst German authorities restrict Jews from playing their own music, especially Jazz, and after one risky covert concert Ari’s music spirt is dashed.

The Night of Broken Glass.

Battling through the atrocities of the Holocaust, we follow Ari’s story, as he meets an old friend and learns to love music again. Intertwined with beautiful original music and featuring a haunting musical score, Broken Instruments is the story of how the power of music can bring people together, give them a sense of purpose and help them to survive unimaginable cruelty. ​

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Broken Instruments has been inspired by ‘Violins of Hope’, written by James Grymes, which tells the moving stories of Jewish musicians and their instruments during World War II.

Our story is about Holocaust survivor, violin restorer and violinist Ari Vander and follows his life before, during and after World War II.  It talks of his experiences and the people he met on that journey.  It is very much a story of triumph in extreme adversity and the rebuilding of a hopeless situation into something beautiful.


Professionally recorded during the Coronavirus pandemic, this auditory experience will have you smiling in one breathe and reaching for the tissues in the next.

Available to buy and download here.

The PDF Script and Music Soundtrack will also be available to buy.

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The title track from the musical. 'Broken Instruments' featuring Kelsey Shaw. Having played across national and International radio, including BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, it is now available to buy, download and keep.

Listen to the single Broken Instruments 

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Dr Rabbi Barbara Borts

‘I was honoured to have helped the team which produced Broken Instruments with their pronunciations of Hebrew and Yiddish words. This care indicates how seriously they took this and indeed, they have created a moving, musically stunning drama about the Holocaust. It is both engaging as a drama, and as well, is a good educational tool’

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