Women, Theater, and the Holocaust – Three Plays that Remember the Women

Remember the Women Institute, in partnership with the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, presented diverse and moving dramatic readings about women and the Holocaust. Dr. Meghan Brodie’s theater students at Ursinus College presented excerpts from NYTF’s English translation of The Bird of the Ghetto, a 1958 Yiddish play by Holocaust survivor Chava Rosenfarb. Excerpts from Oh, I Remember the Black Birch by Dr. Velina Hasu Houston were performed by theater students at USC. Playwright Cynthia L. Cooper’s I Was a Stranger Too was a finalist for the Jewish Plays Project. A panel discussion followed the readings.

The Bird of the Ghetto is from the repertoire of National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, which we thank for giving us permission to use excerpts from Goldie Morgentaler’s English translation. Under the direction of Associate Professor of Theater Dr. Brodie, Ursinus College students Joey Nolan, Evan Chartock, Ben Little, Kate Isabel Foley, and Annie Zulick perform a concert reading of an excerpt of this play, originally in Yiddish, which takes place in 1943 and tells the story of the final days of Isaac Wittenberg, commander of the Vilna ghetto resistance group, the United Partisan Organization.

Oh, I Remember the Black Birch is about Brina, a young woman rescued by Japanese Consul Chiune Sugihara in 1940 from Kovno, Lithuania to Kobe, Japan, during the Holocaust. Dr. Houston’s play is being directed by Rena M. Heinrich, with Keren M. Goldberg as dramaturge/producer. Once in Japan, Brina is assigned to live with Batya, who has been living there for some time. Performers are USC students, Yahm Steinberg as Batya and Roni Gayer as Brina.

An excerpt from ‘I Was A Stranger Too’ by Cynthia L. Cooper and directed by Carolyn Levy will be acted by a cast of six professional women performers from across the country that includes Kirby Bennett, Patricia Perales, Jasmine Porter, Abigail Ramsay, Adara Totino, and Phasoua Vang. The story involves a Jewish woman in America today who is propelled by the memory of her mother’s rescue from the Holocaust to help people fleeing persecution, as she tries to navigate and understand the complexities of system, encountering asylum seekers and asylum helpers along the way. The play is a finalist for the Theatre J Trish Vrandenburg Jewish Play Prize and for the Jewish Plays Project 2022. Research funded by Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council.

To view the complete event program, please click here.

Through the “magic” of the internet, these plays were performed live on April 26, 2022 and brought to us from Pennsylvania, California, and Minnesota.