Plays, books, films about the Holocaust are plentiful, but Chicago playwright Ron Hirsen doesn't think there's ever been one about the children of survivors.
The play grew partially out of his
own experiences, Hirsen
said in a recent phone interview.
father was forced into hiding in his
native Germany after Kristallnacht and left for the United States a year later.
was not in the (concentration) camps but he
did live through the 1930s in Germany as a young adult," Hirsen
Hirsen, a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists who has had his plays produced in Chicago and throughout the country, felt he wanted to write about those feelings but knew he needed to go beyond his own family's experiences.
"As a playwright I felt motivated to write about my experiences and feelings but I didn't feel my personal story or my father's was stageworthy," he
"In most (Holocaust survivor) families, eventually there are issues that come up," Hirsen
says, citing research he
says shows that when children of survivors began to come of age they sought help from mental health professionals in greater numbers than the general population.
"There is something that happens in survivor families that doesn't always get solved without professional help, and that resonated with me," he
Apparently it resonated with audiences too, both at a production in 2002 in Philadelphia and a reading in Chicago two years ago as part of a Kristallnacht commemoration, Hirsen
For the current production, Hirsen
established a not-for-profit corporation, the Elegy Project, to produce the play.
A portion of ticket revenue goes to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center
and a benefit performance will be held Nov. 9 for the Holocaust survivor services of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago
The project, Hirsen
says, was "established specifically to produce this play as a Holocaust survivor awareness event.