Lynn Cohen to Lead LETTERS TO SALA at TBG Theatre
Lynn Cohen ("Sex in the City" and "The Hunger Games") has been cast in the title role of "Letters to Sala," Arlene Hutton's stirring drama about a New York family coming to grips with the sudden disclosure of its matriarch's hidden Holocaust past. Co-produced by The Journey Company and F.A.B. Women@TBG, "Letters to Sala" will have its New York premiere at the TBG Theatre, 312 West 36th Street, in a three-week engagement from October 3 to 18. Directed by Eric Nightengale, "Letters to Sala" will also feature Alice Jankell and Laura Kamin who represent the family's second and third generation survivors.
"Letters to Sala" is based on the true-life account by Ann Kirschner of her mother's remarkable ordeal surviving seven Nazi labor camps in five years, from 1941 to liberation in 1945, and how this story was almost never shared with her family or the outside world. The trove of 350 letters, which Sala Garncarz, a Polish teenager, managed to hide and somehow spirit away from the camps, also remained hidden in her home in New York City in subsequent years. (They are now a permanent part of the Dorot Jewish Division at the NY Public Library.)
Based on Kirschner's memoir "Sala's Gift," "Letters from Sala" dramatizes the fascinating family dynamics of a survivor's instinct to protect those around her from the horrors of the Holocaust, and the act of courage that it sometimes takes to share this legacy.
Beyond their historical significance -- the letters not only shed light on labor camp conditions, but also on how the genocide was being portrayed by the Nazi war machine on the outside -- Sala's letters proved just how deeply relics of the atrocities of the Holocaust can affect and even divide successive generations of survivors.
Kirschner, who is Dean of the Macaulay Honors College at City University, published "Sala's Gift" in 2007. Ms. Garncarz Kirschner, who still lives in New York City, will be portrayed in later years by Lynn Cohen, who is best known for her roles on "Sex in the City" and "The Hunger Games."
Hutton's "Letters to Sala" has received two previous productions in development, both directed by Eric Nightengale. A co-production of the Journey Company and F.A.B. Women, this will be the play's professional New York premiere. The six-year old F.A.B. has launched 48 new short plays written and produced by women. This is F.A.B.'s first full-length production. Lee Brock, co-artistic director of The Barrow Group, is F.A.B. Women's executive director. Hutton, Brock, Jankell and Christine Cirker (the show's producer) are all founding members of F.A.B.
The Journey Company holds the distinction of creating and producing "Last Train to Nibroc," the first Fringe NYC production to move Off-Broadway, which received a Drama League nomination for Best Play. The company has produced Hutton's plays four times at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, receiving Best Actress and Best Ensemble nominations; five times for the New York Fringe Festival, and has enjoyed an international festival presence. Three one-acts developed and produced by The Journey Company, all by Arlene Hutton, have been Samuel French Short Play Festival winners.
Tickets for "Letters to Sala" will go on sale on August 1.