From man, to beast, to crawling thing...
In the first, two concentration camp survivors share the long walk home to the same village in late June 1945. The Jewish character hopes to find his younger brother and the Rom (Gypsy) character hopes to find his son. As they walk, they share their memories of pre-War Svajlava (Ukraine), German occupation, family loss and concentration camp life. Racial and class differences hover over them as they realize how alike and different they are. The second story takes place today, as a young "assimilated" Jewish man travels to the Carpathian mountains to conduct research for a Hollywood film.
He meets an old Jewish man who changes his itinerary, and ultimately, his world view. The story lines intersect suddenly and dramatically. Throughout, four onstage musicians act as a Greek Chorus, providing musical commentary on, and links to, both story lines.
The Jewish and Rom characters represent the only two minorities targeted for extermination by the Nazis. This play explores the relationship between the two groups and two very distinct characters.
The cast features 6 actors and 4 musicians.
The play has received staged workshops at the San Diego Rep and has been awarded grants by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Streisand Festival for New Plays.
The Education of Hershl Grynszpan
takes place at the end of November 3, 1938. Yiske Labushnik, a klezmer musician, travels with us on a train to Warsaw. Sitting in the same couchette is seventeen year old Hershl who Yiske enthralls with tales of his musical experiences. Through this reminiscing, he reveals much about Jewish life in Poland on the eve of World War II. It is only as the journey draws to an end that Yiske reveals what he is really doing on this train and where he is going. His stories will have a profound affect on the Hershl who is traveling home to Paris.
The play ends with the announcement that "Kristalnacht" has begun (Nov. 9 -10 1938). Featuring original text and original and traditional klezmer music, "The Education of Hershl Grynszpan" draws on the playwright's extensive research into the Memorial Books (for which he was profiled in Time Magazine). It is the first play to deal with this actual time period, and from a klezmer's point of view.
The play features three actors and 2 musicians.