Play­crafters presents ‘De­nial’ — a play about the Holo­caust

The Southern Berks News - - RELIGION - By Mary Can­tell

Did the Holo­caust re­ally hap­pen? Does one have a le­gal right to deny it?

Are there his­tor­i­cal re­vi­sion­ists who want the whole in­ci­dent to fade away or be rel­e­gated to a mere fairy tale … and why?

These are some of the ques­tions that ran through play­wright Peter Sa­gal’s mind when he wrote the riv­et­ing le­gal drama about one of the most egre­gious times in hu­man his­tory. His two-act stage play, “De­nial,” casts an in­tro­spec­tive lens into the atroc­ity that was the Holo­caust, and as Sa­gal says, “ex­plores the con­flict be­tween jus­tice and moral­ity.”

Ubiq­ui­tous in the en­ter­tain­ment field from NPR host and co­me­dian, to actor, direc­tor, and pro­lific writer, Sa­gal chose the sub­ject mat­ter for his play by way of a loose as­so­ci­a­tion with a real life Holo­caust de­nier who penned, “The Hoax of the 20th Cen­tury” in 1973.

Sa­gal’s fic­tion­al­ized ver­sion is set in a le­gal of­fice in Cal­i­for­nia. The year is 1990 when Bernard Cooper (played by Mark Ay­ers) is a col­lege pro­fes­sor of en­gi­neer­ing whose per­sonal ef­fects are con­fis­cated by the FBI. When brought in for pros­e­cu­tion, Jewish lawyer Abi­gail Ger­sten (played by Margo Weishar), a spe­cial­ist in the 1st amend­ment, is re­quested by the ACLU to de­fend Cooper— an anti-Semite who al­leges his free-speech rights have been usurped by an over­bear­ing govern­ment when he says the Holo­caust was a per­pe­trated fic­tion de­signed by Jews to ma­lign der Führer (Ger­man au­to­crats). Now he’s be­ing sued for in­cit­ing a riot.

Adding to the drama is young Jewish zealot Adam Ry­berg (played by Sean Collins) who is the pros­e­cut­ing at­tor­ney and ques­tions Abi­gail’s moral com­pass for de­fend­ing the in­de­fen­si­ble whom she de­fends as much as de­tests. Hu­mor­ous el­e­ments are lent by Ste­fanie (played by Car­lene Law­son), the sec­re­tary whose pres­ence adds even an­other layer of prej­u­dice to the whole fi­asco.

“It’s not an easy show… emo­tions are raw,” says Direc­tor Arnie Finkel. “But it’s a show with a mes­sage that ev­ery­one should hear.”

Round­ing out the cast are two holo­caust sur­vivors, Noah (played by Ju­lian Bon­ner) and Nathan (played by Dan Gudema).

While the story line is dra­matic and speaks to man’s in­hu­man­ity to man, there are some lighter mo­ments within the play, in­clud­ing mu­sic. The set is an in­ter­est­ing lay­out shaped in a labyrinth as op­posed to the tra­di­tional straight line and is pro­duced by Cathy Car­roll and Ro Car­pen­ter.

The com­pelling plot takes some stun­ning twists and will leave the au­di­ence in rapt at­ten­tion while it high­lights the hu­man con­di­tion in all of its facets—moral­ity and le­gal­ity among them. In un­der­stand­ing how the world works, it’s im­por­tant to fo­cus on how to change the flaws in man’s cor­rupt­ible hu­man na­ture that would con­jure such prej­u­dice and in­jus­tice. First, it must be ac­counted for and rec­og­nized for what it is.

“There’s no an­swer to holo­caust de­niers,” Finkel says. “Hope­fully, it will make us think.” If you go: Play­crafters presents “De­nial” at the Barn, 2011 Store Road at Skip­pack Pike Skip­pack, PA June 1,2, 3, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 @ 8 p.m. June 11 @ 3 p.m. Info: www.play­crafters.org Phone: 610-584-4005 Tick­ets: $17.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Re­mem­ber the num­bers! Nathan (Dan Gemeda of Devon) shows his death camp tat­too to Noah Gom­rowitz (Gil­bertsville’s Ju­lian Bon­ner) as he proves that he is the man Noah thought to be dead. It is a shock­ing rev­e­la­tion in the drama “De­nial,” play­ing at Play­crafters in Skip­pack on June 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, and 17.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Con­grat­u­la­tions! Ste­fanie (Car­lene Law­son of Col­legeville) con­grat­u­lates her boss Abi­gail Ger­sten (Margo Weishar of Dresher) on her re­cent ap­pear­ance on Court TV. The scene is from the drama De­nial, which opens at Play­crafters in Skip­pack on June 1.

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