Launched in 2015 by NJTF HTII, Remembrance Play Readings are annual international theatrical events that invite Holocaust organizations, theater companies, libraries, schools and universities, places of worship, JCC, Hillel, educators, artists, and the general public to use the power of theater to commemorate the Holocaust. These activities do not require individuals with theater training. Using play readings or full performances participants are encouraged to choose their own topic and play from the NJTF HTII Holocaust Theater Catalog (htc.miami.edu). Whether done simply for the smaller audiences or in full production to larger gatherings these theatrical events (live, virtually or both), commemorate the Holocaust, its remembrance, and lessons for contemporary society. Remembrance Readings often occur on International Holocaust Remembrance Day (1/27), Yom Ha Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) varies yearly, and Kristallnacht 11/8 and 9 (Night of Broken Glass) or occasions chosen by participants.
Prior to the pandemic in USA, NJTF HTII created and commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th, 2020 with a live Remembrance Play Reading of A Shayna Maydel by Barbara Lebow with Broadway actors, presented in association with The Jewish Museum of New York City. Unfortunately, the worldwide Pandemic took its toll, curtailing NJTF HTII RR. However, some events still occurred.
November 2020 commemorating Kristallnacht JCompany Youth Theatre-Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla, CA built outdoor stage, using Covid related protocols, rehearsed and performed live with masks a Terezin related play “Fireflies” to socially distanced audience. JCompany continued in 2021 and 2022 a commitment to live performance with youth cast in play about Holocaust heroine Hannah Senesh. Teen actors and writers of Miami based Holocaust Impact Theater created “Fractured” performed live and filmed for streaming as Holocaust education.
NJTF HTII working with NYPL at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts created two major on line only events.1) 2021- Honoring Jan Karski featuring Tony-nominated actor David Strathairn done with Lab for Global Performance and Politics, Georgetown University. 2) 2022 - Honoring impact on Holocaust theater of Broadway actress Tovah Feldshuh and visionary Director of Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow.
1/27/2022 limited live play readings occurred including Richard Dreyfus in The Soap Myth by Jeff Cohen by North Coast Repertory Theatre, San Diego and Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, NYC, live zoom reading of My Mother’s Courage by George Tabori.
However, uncertainty for safety of live theater actors and audiences requires NJTF to modify major Remembrance Readings efforts until Yom Ha Shoah 4/17- 4/18 /2023.
“We are living in times when studies indicate that memory and knowledge of the Holocaust is lessening. Researching, educating and performing Holocaust-related theater can create an artistic moral compass for future generations”.
- Arnold Mittelman, NJTF President and Director of NJTF Holocaust Theater International Initiative at University of Miami Miller Center
2019 REMEMBRANCE READINGS PARTIAL LIST OF FEATURED PARTICIPANTS
In 2019 National Jewish Theater Foundation (NJTF) - Holocaust Theater International Initiative (HTII) commemorated Yom HaShoah with concert reading of Rothschild & Sons - A Musical Play by Jerry Bock (composer), Sheldon Harnick (lyricist) and Sherman Yellen (lyricist) at NYC Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts. Program included Professor Jessica Hillman McCord author of “Echoes of the Holocaust on the American Musical Stage” and NJTF HTII 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award to late composer Jerry Bock. Accepting the award was daughter Portia Shipler Bock. NJTF HTII honored The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse and North Coast Repertory Theatre for 2015 founding role in NJTF HTII Remembrance Play Readings.
The Wall by Millard Lampell, Based on the novel by John Hersey
Pasadena Playhouse - Jewish Federation of Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys
And A Child Shall Lead by Michael Slade
The Breman Museum of Atlanta
Who Will Carry the Word? by Charlotte Delbo
Round Lake High School Theatre
The Green Book by Calvin A. Ramsey
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center
Refuge Presented with Blessed Unrest Theater and Teatri Oda of Kosovo
Baruch Performing Arts Center
Wall of Glass Directed by Charlotte Cohn
Presented by the Israeli Artists Project
Stephen Wise Free Synagogue
I Never Saw Another Butterfly by Celeste Raspanti
Phoenix Theatre Ensemble
Rescuing the Rescuers by Cynthia L. Cooper
Claude & Marcel by Dr. Meghan
Brodie, Fanny and Gabriel by Nava Semel
Remember the Women Institute and Congregation Ansche Chesed (4th consecutive year of participation)
THE SOAP MYTH* TOUR
By Jeff Cohen
Starring Ed Asner - Seven-Time Emmy Award & Five-Time Golden Globe Winner and Original New York Co-Star Dee Pelletier replacing Tovah Feldshuh (Golda’s Balcony, Irena’s Vow, Yentl) who played all tour dates in January/ February.
*The Soap Myth was originally produced live on stage and filmed in NYC by NJTF HTII both directed by Mr. Arnold Mittelman
CONNECTICUT Mandell JCC of Greater Hartford
DELAWARE Delaware Theatre Company
INDIANA The Palladium at The Center for the Performing Arts
FLORIDA Bryan Glazer Family JCC , Sarasota Opera House
MARYLAND The Peggy and Yale Gordon Center for the Performing Arts
NEW JERSEY Kaplen JCC on the Palisades
NEW YORK Suffolk JCC, B’nai Jeshurun, Center Park West
MISSOURI Congregation Temple Israel
OHIO The Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center & Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus
PENNSYLVANIA Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus & Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh
WISCONSIN Congregation Shalom
2018 Remembrance Readings included UK outreach in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day, January 27. NJTF HTII sponsored London theatrical events supporting the mission of UK Holocaust Education Trust (HET) and UK Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT).
2017 highlights included: the celebrity involvement of actor Ed Asner doing national readings of The Soap Myth by Jeff Cohen. NJTF HTII honored Elie Wiesel for his plays with readings across America and at Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts, NYC. Mr. and Mrs. Wiesel were presented with the NJTF/HTII Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the Lincoln Center Reading.
In 2016, theaters, educators, artists, and memorial museums participated and were from 11 cities and states including Washington – D.C.,New York City, San Diego, and Chicago.