April 13 – April 30, 2017
Hand2Mouth in association with CoHo Productions present
by Andrea Stolowitz
Directed by Jonathan Walters
Performances by Erin Leddy & Damon Kupper
“To my dearly beloved grandchildren,
I dedicate this film of my life . . . the start here of the favorable new American life of our family after all the disappointments of Europe.”
– Dr. Max Cohnreich, 1939 diary, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
The great-grandfather of Oregon Book Award-winning playwright Andrea Stolowitz kept a journal for his descendents after escaping to New York City in 1939 as a German Jew. Following the complicated lure of genealogy, Stolowitz goes back to Berlin to bring the story of her unknown ancestors out of the archives into the light. The record keeps as many secrets as it shares; how do people become verschollen, lost, like library books?
In this complex, contemporary drama about the search for home, fragmented heritage and Jewish diaspora, two performers scintillate between characters and locations at the border of reality and memory and the intersection of national history and private lives.
#Messages to the Future, Personal Archiving in the 21st Century
- Saturday, April 15 @ 5 pm (before the 7:30 performance)
In the 1940s Andrea Stolowitz’s great grandfather wrote a diary as a message to his great grandchildren. This workshop considers the opportunities and challenges of communication with future generations in a time of endless documentation and personal archiving. Participants will reflect on what they might want their future kin to know, the challenges inherent in archiving in an era of planned obsolescence and the use of tags as archival tools. Participants will also have the chance to record messages to their future relatives living 20, 50 and 200 years from now.
‘Searching for Family’
- Sunday April 23 @ 5 pm (following the matinee performance)
This panel will assemble personal stories of the challenges and rewards of genealogical searches in the face of mass displacement. Stories will draw from a range of global experiences and perspectives.
’21st Century Berlin & the Jewish Diaspora’
- Sunday April 30 @ 5 pm (following the matinee performance)
- Confirmed Panelists: Playwright Andrea Stolowitz and Journalist Miriam Widman
There are currently an estimated 11,000-12,000 Israeli expats in Berlin and this number may be even higher given that many Israelis hold European passports through a program that allows Holocaust survivors and their descendants to apply for German citizenship. While the attractions of Berlin for young creatives drawn by affordable housing and arts funding is well established, this panel will consider Berlin’s flourishing diaspora in light of contemporary German attitudes towards Jewishness and the country’s approach to reconciliation and memorialization of the Holocaust.
“It’s not easy to get a Berlin audience to laugh at jokes about the Holocaust. But American playwright Andrea Stolowitz manages to do just that in her latest premiere at the English Theater Berlin.”
“[Andrea Stolowitz] thought, ‘Well, I’m going to Berlin, my great-grandfather is from Berlin, he started this diary in 1939 in New York for his grandchildren, he knew he would have grandchildren in the U.S.,’” she said, adding why the diary switches to English. “I thought, well, let me take this diary and use archives in Berlin to figure out more about this story — whatever the story is.”
“What became clear was the interesting part of the story was my trying to find these things out, not necessarily what’s in the diary,” she said. “It ended up being that I’m a character in my own play, which is kind of hilariously theatrical.”
[Henrik Egar]: “You summarized your play with this thought-provoking quote, “My family is alive? First the story was no one died in the Holocaust. Then I found the ones who died. Now I’m finding the ones who lived. [. . .] I feel like I should tell someone. My Mom. David. Claire.” And then you ask: “Does anyone care?””
[Andrea Stolowitz] “Well, I really feel this way as a third generation Holocaust survivor. The legacies of the past, the ghosts of the past, still haunt me. Maybe this is what being “third generation” means. We see the ghosts and we want to set them free.”
PRODUCTION HISTORY & SUPPORT
Berlin Diary premiered at English Theatre Berlin in October 2016. The play was supported through a 2014-15 DAAD faculty research fellowship, a year-long residency at English Theatre Berlin/International Performing Arts Center, and grants from the Oregon Arts Commission, The Regional Arts and Culture Council, The Checkpoint Charlie Foundation, and The US Embassy. The play was developed at PlayPenn and the New Harmony Project.
This production made possible with generous support from the Jewish Theatre Federation of Greater Portland, Metro and Jewish Theatre Collaborative. Other community sponsors include: Congregation Beth Israel, Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, Mittleman Jewish Community Center, and PSU’s Judaic Studies Department.
Previews: April 13 & 14, Opening: April 15 through April 30
Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 3 pm
*Free Public Conversations
- April 15, 5pm ‘#Message to the Future’
- April 23, 5 pm ‘Searching for Family’
- April 30, 5pm ‘21st Century Berlin & the Jewish Diaspora’
Coho Theatre 2257 NW Raleigh St, Portland, OR 97210
Box Office (503)-220-2646
Tickets & Info: www.hand2mouththeatre.org