College of Charleston SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

CofC Theatre Presents True Holocaust Survival Story

The Department of Theatre in the College of Charleston School of the Arts is excited to present its final production of the season, “Letters to Sala” by Arlene Hutton. This new play, based on the book “Sala’s Gift” by Ann Kirschner, is based on a true story. For nearly fifty years, Sala Garncarz Kirschner kept a secret. On the eve of heart surgery she suddenly presents her daughter, Ann Kirschner, with a priceless collection of 350 letters and photographs — heart wrenching expressions of longing, love, and hope that Sala risked her life to preserve during five brutal years as a prisoner in seven different Nazi forced-labor camps. Revealing a secret she has kept hidden from her family for nearly fifty years eventually forces Sala to realize she must fully acknowledge her own past in order to heal the present. “Letters to Sala” is a testament to the human spirit and the power of words to give and sustain life, even in the face of monstrosity.

The play will open on Saturday, April 14 and close on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Thursday, April 19. The production will take place in the Emmett Robinson Theatre in the Simons Center for the Arts, 54 St. Philip St. Curtain times will be 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, 3 p.m. on Sunday, and 7:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Tickets may be purchased at the box office or by calling (843) 953-5604. Tickets are $15 for the general population and $10 for College of Charleston students, faculty, staff, and senior citizens 60 and older. There will be a Talkback and reception with the cast and crew on opening night, April 14, following the performance.

In addition, The REMEMBER Program of the Charleston Jewish Federation will cosponsor a  special program entitled, Whose Story Is It: How an Archive Was Transformed into an Exhibition, a Book, a Play, and a Documentary Film.  Join curator Jill Vexler, playwright Arlene Hutton, and Ann Kirschner on Sunday, April 15 at 11:30 a.m., in the Recital Hall of the Simons Center for the Arts, 54 Saint Philip St. as they discuss the genesis of this amazing project. The special program is free to the public.

Hutton, an award-winning playwright based in New York City who teaches playwriting at the College of Charleston, has been developing “Letters to Sala” for several years with her longtime collaborator Eric Nightengale, who as guest director is collaborating with the College’s faculty designers Janine McCabe (costumes), Charlie Calvert (sets) and Paul Collins (lighting).

The cast includes nearly 30 student actors, many of whom are theatre majors and minors at the College of Charleston, and all of whom are enjoying working on a new play with an evolving script. Playwright Arlene Hutton, who received a Drama League nomination for “Last Train to Nibroc,” is delighted to be able to develop the play on a larger stage than the off-Broadway ones she usually writes for.

In addition to the play, there will be an exhibit about Sala and her letters on view to the public in the lobby of the Simons Center, beginning April 10th. The exhibit is generously funded by the College of Charleston School of the Arts’ Quattlebaum Artist in Residence Endowment. (A larger version of the exhibit was presented in the College of Charleston Addlestone Library earlier this year.) Hutton shares, “I’m grateful to the theatre department and the Quattlebaum Foundation for supporting Ann Kirschner’s visit and the lobby exhibition from the New York Public Library.”