Rowan theatre production keeps words of a holocaust survivor alive

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The Department of Theatre & Dance presents a Holocaust-themed drama based on the true story of Charlotte Delbo that is a celebration of the human spirit.

A Holocaust drama based on the true story of Charlotte Delbo, Who Will Carry The Word? offers a unique theatrical view into one episode from this horrific period in history. The Department of Theatre & Dance at Rowan University presents this affecting work for 14 performances between February 21 and March 3 in the Westby Hall Black Box Theatre on the university’s Glassboro campus.

Performances are February 21 at 8 pm; February 22, 23, 28 and March 1 and 2 at 7 and 9 pm; February 24 at 3 and 5 pm; and March 3 at 3 pm.

Directed by Dr. Anthony Hostetter and based on Delbo’s story as translated from the French by Cynthia Haft, the play depicts the lives of 20 women sharing a barracks in Auschwitz. The goal: keep the strongest alive so there will be someone to share their experiences with the world.  A celebration of the human spirit, Who Will Carry The Word? is a portrait of resilience by ordinary people placed in extraordinary—and in this case, horrifying—circumstances.

Who Will Carry The Word?, written in 1966, attempts to describe life inside the concentration camps with an unflinching eye. Delbo draws on poetic language and imagery to dramatize her eyewitness account of the horrors she and her contemporaries experienced. The title indicates Delbo’s fascination with the idea of bearing witness to something unspeakable. The cast not only carry the weight of the playwright’s provocative words, but also the responsibility of honoring the more than six million Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, disabled and others murdered by the Nazis in the 1940s.

The production features 20 young women enacting the first-hand eyewitness accounts of the atrocities at Auschwitz. The cast includes Lauren Ackermann of Rutherford, Nia Ali of Plainfield, Allie Angelou of Lincroft, Lauren Berman of Cherry Hill, Leah Cohen of Maplewood, Frankie Contino of Washington Township, Michele Germano of Columbus, Janet Gleason of Beachwood, Christina Higgins of Mt. Laurel, Claire Kane of Wildwood, Kaitlin Kemp of Fredericksburg (VA), Katie Kiessling of Bridgeton, Katie Knoblock of West Deptford, Andrea Krapevka of North Edison, Catherine Kustra of Lindenwold, Jessie McCormick of Lincroft, Allyn Merida of North Bergen, Sam Price of Lincroft, Kelsey Rivera of Perth Amboy and Katie Verde of Toms River.

A member of the Department of Theatre & Dance faculty, Dr. Hostetter previously directed Who Will Carry The Word? for the Philadelphia Fringe Festival and at Temple University’s Randall Theater. He has directed the English-language premieres of Emmy Goring Stands by Her Man and Love Letters to Stalin. In 2003, he published his first book, Max Reinhardt's Grobes Schauspielhaus: Its Artistic Goals, Planning and Operation, 1910-1933. Hostetter also designs for theater, including the opera Violet Fire, The Mystery of Irma Vep for Brat Productions, Media Theater’s world premiere of Tammy Wynette Remembered and The Heidi Chronicles, Jitney and Seven Guitars for Temple University Theaters.

Delbo (1913-1985) was a French writer who was imprisoned in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943, along with 228 other French women. Only 49 survived. She was later transferred to the Raisko satellite camp, then to Ravensbrück and finally released to the custody of the Swedish Red Cross in 1945.  After the war, Delbo dedicated her live to giving witness to the atrocities committed by the Nazis in the death camps. Her other works include Auschwitz and After and Days and Memory, collections that further reveals her obsession with finding the right words to speak the unspeakable.

Seating is limited for each performance; advanced purchase is recommended. The theatre is located on the first floor of Westby Hall on the campus of Rowan University, Route 322 in Glassboro, NJ. Tickets are $15, general admission; and $10 for seniors/non-Rowan students/alumni/staff. Rowan students are admitted free with valid ID. For tickets and information, visit rowan.tix.com or call the box office at (856) 256-4545.

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