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Theater Wed Nov 06 2013

Transformative Art: Elegy Opens at the Victory Gardens Theatre

TheElegyProject_Elegy01.jpg

Ron Hirsen's Elegy is a commemoration of Kristallnacht, the November pogrom of 1938, but it is not only that; it is also an exploration of the healing power of art.

The play opens in 1970s New York City with Helmut (David Wohl) and Hilde (Iris Lieberman), Holocaust survivors, and their adult son Jerry (Justin Leider), but moves back and forth through time and space to expose the lives of the characters as they confront the horror of discrimination, the loss of loved ones, and the picking up of the pieces after World War II.

When Jerry finds a poem that his father wrote to his mother as the Germany they knew and loved was falling to pieces around them, he won't rest until he's heard poetry read and created by his father once again. The poem exposes a side of Helmut that Jerry has never seen, a sensitivity that was harrowed out of him during his gruesome time in a concentration camp. As Helmut begins to address the heartache of his past, the line between past and present blurs and the audience is taken on a journey to pre-war Berlin, to Auschwitz, and finally to America. The scenes are held together by cellist Bill Meyers, who sits directly offstage and plays rich, haunting notes.

Under director Dennis Začek, the actors employ small details to celebrate their characters as they move through the disparate moments of their lives. Young, hopeful, and in love, pre-war Helmut and Hilde speak without the somber, post-war German accents that define their time in America; Iris Lieberman's Hilde raises her hands slowly to brush her hair behind her ears as she forgets her girlhood and moves into the tense present of the play. These things are not only useful tools for the audience to keep up with the action, they are also reminders of how time and hurt change a person.

Just as Helmut's rediscovery of poetry helps him begin to heal, so too does Elegy address the wound that the Holocaust left on the world. Rather than hope to erase it, we can only create and enjoy art that honors the memory of those who were lost as well as those who remain. Elegy will play at the Victory Gardens Theatre (2433 N. Lincoln Ave) through December 1st. You can read more about it here, and you can learn about the Elegy Project here. Tickets are available on the Victory Gardens Theatre website.


 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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