One-woman play tells story of Holocaust
When she was a child, Karine Koret of Chicago listened to her grandmother's stories about surviving the Holocaust. But it wasn't until she was studying acting at Boston University School for the Arts that she appreciated the importance of Edna Taub Davidoff's memories.
Koret turned those into a one-woman play called "Lily," which she will perform on Thursday at Seton Hill College in Greensburg.
"The stories are about how her grandmother linked up in Auschwitz with four school mates," said Wilda Kaylor, director of the National Catholic Center For Holocaust Education based at the college. "They form a pact and do whatever is possible and necessary to sustain each other."
Koret, 24, interviewed her grandmother, who was 16 in 1944, when the play takes place. The other family members were put through "the selection" and probably sent to the crematory.
Davidoff and her friends were put to work and moved through five camps.
"They form an incredible bonding and they keep each other going with their stories and their memories," Koret said in a phone interview from Chicago.
She plays all five roles. There's Chankoo, the mother figure, and Choochoo, the confidante. Bobby was light-hearted and Looty was frail with tuberculosis.
"They had to take care of her constantly and hide her," Koret said.
Looty died in one of the camps. The other women live in Jerusalem and Israel and still keep in touch.
Koret spent childhood summers with her grandmother, who also visited the United States and spent a month in Chicago while Koret interviewed her for the script.
"I asked her to tell it to me the way she wanted to hear it, and I think she's very happy with it," Koret said. "I called her about certain parts but she said, 'I trust you — go out and put it to the world.'"
Koret performs in churches, synagogues and libraries where she sometimes finds Holocaust survivors who want to share their stories. Young audiences in shools and universities, she said, are often "shocked."
"They don't understand how this could have happened," she said.
David Shtulman, area director for the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Jewish Committee, is pleased that the organization is sponsoring "Lily."
"It's very difficult to think about the extermination of 6 million people," he said. "But when you can distill the Holocaust to the story of one person's life and you can portray it in a dramatic fashion, people can get a much better understanding of some of the issues."
Koret uses the play to raise the awareness of violence and the need to become a "more non-violent society."
"I hope to put out a message for peace," she said.