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   Date: 2/4/09

Play Reading Brings to Life Diarist's Accounts of Holocaust

Scenes from Etty.

The Smith Theatre New Play Reading Series presents the one-woman show Etty on Thursday, Feb. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in Earle Recital Hall, Sage.  Admission is free and open to the public.

Adapted and performed by Susan Stein and directed by Austin Pendleton, Etty is based on the diaries and letters of Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman soon to be deported from Holland in 1943.

Sharing the stage with a suitcase, Etty speaks to the audience as she tries to gain clarity and insight into her life while preparing for her three-day journey to the East. Music from the Westerbork Cabaret is woven into sharp accounts of the transports, the fields of lupins, the barbed wire, and the untenable situation of Jews in the Jewish Council. Etty’s story is a struggle against despair. She tries to engage the horror rather than shrink from it. By confronting the truth of what is happening she creates a new form of resistance that poses a larger question and ultimately liberates her. Etty’s words, insights and beliefs reach out from the Holocaust and allow the audience to see the power of hope and individual thought in the most extreme circumstances.

After reading Etty’s diaries in 1943, Susan Stein embarked on this theatrical project with the intent of keeping Etty’s story alive. Etty has been performed in New York City and internationally. The presentation of Etty at Smith will allow Stein to further develop her piece based on audience feedback.

Prior to this endeavor, Stein appeared in Arthur Miller's American Clock, also directed by Austin Pendleton at HB Playwrights Foundation. She was seen on Luna Stage as the wife in Bathsheeba Doran’s A Parent’s Evening. Other roles include Louise in Lanford Wilson’s The Great Nebulae of Orion, W1 in Beckett’s Play, and Wanda in Christopher Durang’s Wanda’s Visit.

Austin Pendleton has had an extensive career that spans more than 40 years. He is a well-known American film, television, and stage actor, a playwright, and a theatre director and teacher. He previously directed Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour at Smith. He was seen as Friar Lawrence at the Delacorte Theatre’s 2007 production of Romeo and Juliet and he played the Army Chaplain in their 2006 production of Mother Courage. He is an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and the author of Orson’s Shadow, Uncle Bob and Booth.

Click here for additional information about Etty.


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