Play recalls life of Holocaust survivor
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
A new play by Youngstown playwright J.E. Ballantyne Jr. about the life of a Holocaust survivor will open Friday.
“Images: Remembrances of the Holocaust – The Eva Schloss Story” will get its premiere at the Youngstown Playhouse, where it will run for nine performances over three consecutive weekends.
“Images” is a one-woman play starring local theater veteran Molly Galano. It tells the life story of Schloss, a Holocaust survivor and a stepsister of Anne Frank.
The play, co-produced by the Youngstown Playhouse and J&B Production Arts Services, goes beyond two previous plays about Schloss by taking the audience from her childhood in Vienna right up to the present day and her life in London.
Ballantyne describes “Images” as “a very uplifting story [that] takes the audience on a virtual tour of Eva’s life through her continuing work to educate people about what happened during the Holocaust and how prejudice and intolerance can fuel the fire for it to happen again.”
Galano portrays the 87-year-old Schloss in a retrospective type of format as she relates her life while surrounded by belongings and artifacts that evoke both painful and happy memories.
There are also filmed segments, featuring other local actors, interspersed in the play to advance the narrative, said Ballantyne.
“As Eva talks about something, a video with actors playing members of her family comes up,” said Ballantyne.
The show takes place in the attic of her home, where she is being interviewed by a reporter.
The reporter is never seen and his questions are only heard. It’s a theatrical technique similar to that of the character of The Director in “A Chorus Line,” said Ballantyne.
The goal of “Images” is to create something that will continue to tell Schloss’ story when she is no longer able to keep up her traveling schedule.
“With so many Holocaust survivors passing away, it is essential that we keep these stories alive in whatever way we can,” said Ballantyne.
Toward that end, a tour of the show is scheduled to begin early next year, which will be aimed at schools, theaters, churches, synagogues and other types of venues. “Eva’s traveling schedule has been slowed in recent years due to family illness, so this show will help to fill that void,” said Ballantyne.
For information about booking the play, call Ballantyne at 330-799-6176.
“Images” is the second play Ballantyne has written about Schloss’ life. His play “A Light in the Darkness: A Story of Hope During the Holocaust,” based on the novel “The Promise,” by Schloss, premiered at Victorian Players Theater in Youngstown in 2011.
Ballantyne has written two other plays about the Holocaust. “The Secret Annexe,” based on the book “Anne Frank Remembered” by Miep Gies, premiered at the Oakland Center for the Arts in Youngstown in 2001.
“Block 5,” set in a Nazi concentration camp, premiered at the Victorian Players Theater in 2010.