Manhasset High School’s Theater Department will perform Letters to Sala, a play based on more than 350 letters that Sala Garncarz Kirschner had kept hidden since the time she was held in seven Nazi labor camps during World War II.
Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 16, at the high school.
Written by playwright Arlene Hutton, Letters to Sala is based on the book Sala’s Gift, by Sala’s daughter, Ann Kirschner. She only found out about the letters when her mother faced a major operation and feared she might not recover—50 years after her time in the Nazi labor camps. The play deals with Kirschner’s discovery of her mother’s secret past and the impact that the discovery has on her and her two young daughters. It also examines the role the letters have in keeping the story of life in the labor camps alive.
The play is being directed by Robb Fessler, the head of theater department. He could clearly see the tremendous impact it would have on teenage students, many of whom are the same age as Sala was when she was a prisoner. Besides rehearsing their lines, the cast and crew are working on sensitivity training, which is helping them appreciate the strength of the characters they are portraying and the importance of keeping their stories alive.
“It’s amazing to watch these young actors develop empathy for their characters and understanding of their terrible ordeal,” said Fessler.
The staging is innovative, as it switches from the labor camps in the 1940s to 2005, when Sala is living with her daughter and granddaughters in a New York apartment.
Kirschner is a successful American entrepreneur, educator and author. She believes that audiences will connect with Arlene Hutton’s wonderful play about her mother and hopefully will make them think about the life stories they will leave behind.
“My mother chose kindness over hate, friendship over enmity, hope over despair. Those choices sustained her during the war and informed her life afterwards,” said Kirschner.
Reserved seating tickets to Letters to Sala are $12 and may be purchased 24 hours a day via the online box office at www.web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/1321.
written by Kathy Wummer