Travel tales given dark hu­mour and poignancy

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JENNY LING

Deb Filler’s rich life ex­pe­ri­ences and haunt­ing fam­ily back­ground are ev­i­dent in her per­for­mances.

And her lat­est, I Lost it in Kiev, prom­ises to be no dif­fer­ent.

Ms Filler shares many true sto­ries in the 80-minute solo per­for­mance, pep­pered with her trade­mark dark hu­mour.

Like the time she was about to em­bark on a oneyear schol­ar­ship in Is­rael as a teenager.

Her fa­ther, a Holo­caust sur­vivor, asked her to look for any­one from his home town in Poland.

‘‘I asked ev­ery­body I met from Poland . . . one day some­one asked me where my fa­ther came from and one thing led to an­other and through that I was able to pro­vide my fa­ther with a link to ev­ery­body who lived in that town.’’

Her fa­ther got ‘‘caught up in the net’’ of World War II and was im­pris­oned in sev­eral death camps from 1942 to 1945.

Af­ter he was lib­er­ated from Terezin con­cen­tra­tion camp in 1945, he spent an­other four years in a dis­placed per­sons’ camp be­fore mak­ing his way to Aus­tralia.

There, he met his wife and the cou­ple moved to New Zealand and set up a bak­ery on Do­min­ion Rd.

‘‘Sub­con­sciously he never made the distinc­tion be­tween be­ing in Auschwitz and be­ing in a bak­ery; he was work­ing 22 hours a day ap­par­ently, which was un­heard of.

‘‘He was just try­ing to es­tab­lish us, buy­ing a car and do­ing all the things you do,’’ she says.

The vet­eran writer, ac­tress and co­me­dian has per­formed in New York, Berlin, Ed­in­burgh, Los Angeles, Lon­don, Mel­bourne and Mon­treal.

It’s a long way from Mt Roskill where she grew up at­tend­ing Mt Roskill pri­mary, intermediate and gram­mar schools.

Ms Filler was an early en­ter­tainer, join­ing the Lit­tle Folk Singers of Mt Roskill at age 9.

Ms Filler left New Zealand in her mid-twen­ties and trav­elled across Amer­ica be­fore set­tling in New York.

She spent sev­eral years study­ing theatre while wait­ress­ing.

For the last 15 years she has lived in Toronto, Canada.

Ms Filler de­scribes her shows as ‘‘sto­ry­telling with hu­mour and a lot of poignancy’’.

‘‘Be­cause of my back­ground I don’t take my life for granted,’’ she says.

‘‘Laugh­ter is def­i­nitely pow­er­ful en­ergy and so is feel­ing and heart so I try to con­nect that too.’’

I Lost it in Kiev is a collection of travel sto­ries, she says.

‘‘Auck­land’s changed a huge amount but there’s al­ways a pull to come home to the se­cu­rity, the sim­plic­ity and the joy.

‘‘But the irony is I’m al­ways stuck in traf­fic and run­ning around here or there.’’

Mas­ter sto­ry­teller: Writer and co­me­dian Deb Filler is per­form­ing at the Maid­ment Theatre.

RAVI: Loves cricket

Al­ter ego: Deb Filler’s solo show draws on her East Euro­pean fam­ily back­ground.

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