New Play Inspired by Holocaust Exhibit at UMass Amherst to Be Staged May 4-6 at Yiddish Book Center
May 1, 2012
AMHERST, Mass. - "Present Company Excluded," a new play inspired by an exhibit at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will be performed by The Drama Studio this weekend at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst.
Written by Doug Foresta and directed by Dan Morbyrne, the play is based the real-life experiences of survivor Herbert Roth, which were documented in the institute's teaching exhibit, "A Reason to Remember: Roth, Germany 1933-1942."
Roth was a young Jew living in the town of Roth, Germany in the years 1935-38. The play explores the impact of Nazi policy on the life of a teenage boy prior to Kristallnacht. As Roth describes in a memoir, "Nazism came to Roth like a thief in the night." The play tells the story of how Jews who had lived in the small town for hundreds of years went from being affable neighbors and close friends with neighboring Christian families to being completely shunned, all within a span of four years. Teen-age Herb must deal with his non-communicative, defeated father, a new unwanted stepmother, a Nazi schoolteacher, preparations for his upcoming Bar-Mitzvah, and above all, being forbidden to play soccer with his Christian friends. Rooth and his family were able to immigrate to Chicago, among the last Jews to escape the town alive.
"Present Company Excluded" will be performed at the Yiddish Book Center’s Applebaum-Driker Theater on Friday, May 4 at noon; Saturday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 6 at 2 p.m. The center is located at 1021 West St.
"Present Company Excluded" premiered to great acclaim last October at The Drama Studio in Springfield.
Foresta has been the Drama Studio’s playwright in residence since 2002, teaching playwriting for adults and youth. In writing "Present Company Excluded," Foresta drew heavily on interviews with Herbert Roth (still living in Chicago) and his daughter, Deborah Roth-Howe of Amherst, who was instrumental in creating the original exhibit at the Hatikvah Holocaust Education Center in Springfield. In 2010, the exhibit was donated by the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts to the new Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst, where it is now housed at 758 North Pleasant St.
Morbyrne, The Drama Studio’s director of production, who has been on studio's faculty for the past seven years, directs "Present Company Excluded." His cast of 11 will feature five teen actors from the Drama Studio Conservatory and six adults from the community. Staff designers Craig Milne and Greta Breglio-Redman created sets and costumes, respectively.
Now in its 25th year, The Drama Studio provides a conservatory-style acting training program for young people in the Pioneer Valley region, with an emphasis on uplifting the adolescent experience. Currently serving more than 250 students with weekly acting classes and vacation programs, the studio provides year-round training and produces more than 12 plays each year, either in its black box theatre or on tour. The studio is a not-for-profit educational organization.
The Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies and the Yiddish Book Center are co-sponsoring the performances in Amherst for the benefit of local community and students.
Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students, seniors and Yiddish Book Center members. Reservations are strongly recommended and tickets can only be reserved online at www.yiddishbookcenter.org/.
For more information about the performance, call The Drama Studio at 413/739-1983.