Rowan University’s Westby Black Box Theatre will turn into the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust. The Theatre & Dance Department’s production of Charlotte Delbo’s “Who Will Carry the Word?” will have 14 performances throughout the next two weeks. The play is directed by Dr. Anthony Hostetter.
The plot centers on 20 women sharing a barracks in Auschwitz. Together, they share one goal: keep the strongest of them alive to disclose their story to the public.
The cast members went through various routines to prepare for their roles. The tasks included watching movies such as “Schindler’s List” and meeting Holocaust survivors such as Manya Frydman Perel, a woman who was imprisoned in several concentration and death camps. To support the show, Perel will be in the audience on opening night.
“I’m ecstatic that Manya, one of the survivors the cast met, will be in the audience on opening night,” said Kaitlin Kemp (Francoise). “Unfortunately, I was unable to hear her story when everyone else did, so I can’t wait to finally see and meet this woman that has left such an imprint on my ‘sisters’ hearts.”
The cast also went through more rigorous routines to get into character. This was executed by the artistic director, Melanie Stewart. To help the actresses feel the emotions of Holocaust victims, Stewart yelled at the actresses to go out into the rain in 40 degree weather and remove their clothing.
“We came to realize that this was a test of what the women went through during the Holocaust,” said Frankie Contino (Madeline), in an interview with The Whit.
Stewart is proud of the cast’s accomplishments.
“They are very prepared as an ensemble – they have worked for months with survivors, in research and in rehearsals,” Stewart said. “It has been hard and very rewarding for all of them.”
Sam Price (Regine) is excited for an audience to see the performance.
“I feel that we have something really special and intriguing here,” Price said. “I just hope people understand that we aren’t trying to make them feel guilty or just sad – we are aiming to show them that there is beauty and hope in even the worst situations.”
Audiences can see if the cast accomplishes that goal when the play premieres on Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. More performances follow on Feb. 22, 23, 28 and March 1 and 2 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.; February 24 at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.; and March 3 at 3 p.m. Tickets are priced at $15 for general admission and $10 for seniors, non-Rowan students, alumni and staff. Free admission is given to Rowan students with a valid student ID. Advanced ticket purchases and reservations are recommended as there will be limited seating at each performance.