“Everyone always thinks because the play is set in the Holocaust it’s going to be a downer,” says Warren Goldie, author of Warsaw, which will be read by Fairfield actors on December 13 at 7:30 p.m. on the theater stage at Central Park Furnishings, west side of the Fairfield square. “But the fact is, audiences feel uplifted by it.”
Warsaw is the story of the Leibowitz family, which is trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi occupation of Poland in 1940. About 400,000 Jews of that city perished in the Holocaust.
“I wanted it in a high-pressure, heightened milieu to raise the stakes so the family has to get to the core of their issues,” says Goldie, whose own mother was a Romanian survivor of the Holocaust. “But the horrific backdrop is not what it’s about. It’s really about a family trying desperately to heal, and discovering that love can transcend even the darkest of situations.”
While living in Hollywood in the 1990s, Goldie was a manager at the Shoah Foundation, a digital archive of Holocaust survivor testimonies founded and chaired by Steven Spielberg. Goldie’s mother and aunt contributed their accounts to the project, which has archived 115,000 hours of testimonies.
The project was headquartered on the backlot at Universal Studios in Burbank, California, a short walk from Spielberg’s movie production company, DreamWorks. Goldie drew inspiration from the experience. “You’d be working away and suddenly there was Steven Spielberg coming through with Liam Neeson or Kirk Douglas or some other star to tour around to say hi,” says Goldie. “We created a feed into his office so he could watch the testimonies being transferred to disk in real time.”
Warsaw was a finalist in the Baltimore Playwrights Festival and the Playwrights Showcase of the Western States in Denver. It was produced at Fells Point Theatre in Baltimore.
In addition to its historical realism, Warsaw is infused with humor, wit, and surprise. A ghost—called a dybbuk in Yiddish—moves unseen through the family’s apartment, adding a mystical dimension that takes the story in unexpected directions.
The cast of Thursday’s show includes Andrew Edlin (writer and star of Churchill), Rosanne Wagger, George Kelley, Meredith Siemsen, Peter Kennedy, Celeste Siemsen, Patrick Bosold, and Miles Siemsen.
Central Park Furnishings is located at 56 N. Main Street on the Fairfield square. $5 suggested donation.