Holocaust victim’s words inform Carnegie Stage production
A one-woman play based on the writings of a Dutch Jewish woman who died in Auschwitz during World War II is coming to Carnegie Stage in Carnegie.
Off the WALL Productions will present Equity actor and teaching artist Susan Stein in “Etty” from Feb. 7 to 10.
Stein created the play from the diaries of Esther “Etty” Hillesum, who was living in Amsterdam at the time of her deportation in 1941, when she was 29. She died in 1943.
Hillesum had begun the diaries at the suggestion of her therapist, as a way to deal with her depression.
“Etty’s struggles are contemporary, mirroring many of our own at a time when it remains easier for many to ignore news of human rights violations,” Stein says. “Moving beyond its historical context, Etty ultimately addresses issues of human nature and its complexity with regards to issues of human rights and genocide.”
The play seeks to challenge audiences to re-examine personal prejudices and assumptions, specifically about the Holocaust, political resistance, social justice and individual responsibility, representatives of Off the WALL say.
“(Etty) asks us to consider our own responsibility today, in a world where the promise of ‘never again’ has not yet been realized,” Stein says.
“Nothing is maudlin or tear-jerking about Etty,” according to a 2010 Philadelphia Inquirer review by Howard Shapiro. “Indeed, the entire smart script, full of insight, is from Hillesum’s own words, in letters she wrote and a diary she kept, Anne Frank-style.
“Stein’s spot-on performance clearly honors both her subject and anyone who has died at hatred’s hellish hands,” Shapiro said.
“Etty” has been performed in the United States and internationally, with venues including New York City, Boston, Scotland, Israel, Belgium and the Netherlands. It is directed by Tony nominee Austin Pendleton, currently acting on Broadway in “Choir Boy.”
In addition to the four Carnegie Stage performances, off the WALL Productions and Carnegie Stage have partnered with Classrooms Without Borders to produce several daytime shows for Pittsburgh-area middle- and high-school students.
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter @shirley_trib.