It is funny how things converge to lead us to an idea, a thought, an experience, sometimes...Yesterday, I was in Barnes and Noble and as I was headed to purchase some books with my gift certificates (from the past 3 years...), I saw a copy of the novel the movie "Defiance" was adapted, so I bought it. It had been on the list.
Today, I was with a friend and talked about "Defiance" and "The Reader" then on my way home, I turned the radio on and the talk show host was interviewing a playwright named Dan Gordon and he was discussing the play he had written titled, "Irena's Vow". The play is either headed toward or is already on Broadway. It got rave reviews when it was Off-Broadway. The story is about a young Polish Catholic woman who hid 13 Jews in the house of a German officer during the war.
I was really loathe to tear myself away from the interview except that nature called after I had been sitting in the driveway for about 15 minutes, just listening.
Apparently, after the war, the real Irena moved to the United States, got married, had a daughter and never spoke of what had happened to her during the war. One day, a young man, who was working on his dissertation denying the Holocaust, called to ask her some questions in a random survey. As he asked questions trying to lead her to denying the Holocaust, she grew more and more agitated before blurting out her story. Her daughter was, I believe, 11 years old at the time (maybe older) and had never heard the story before.
The playwright said that after that, Irena would tour public schools and talk to the high school students about hate and the Holocaust and tell them, "You are the last generation to hear this story from those who were witnesses. You have a responsibility to remember and to tell other people." She was said to have told people that even the biggest, most macho boys came to her afterwards to talk to her and she would hug them and say, "I love you, honey." He said that to hear that from her was to hear the most sincere, most unconditional love come from a human being.
I was so moved, I came in the house to research the play, the playwright and whatever I could find. The woman playing Irena in the play is Tovah Feldshuh. When they first said her name, I knew it was familiar, but I couldn't place it. When I googled her, I found that she played the Jessica Stein's mother in "Kissing Jessica Stein". I loved her in that (I will talk about that movie some other time here). I think she is mostly a New York/Broadway actress - she has done movies and television, but it seems like her fame has really come from Broadway. The playwright RAVED about her and so did the talk show host. They said she was the "Olympian" of acting.
If you are interested, there is a really in-depth interview with Tovah Feldshuh on the play's website. She is a great interview and has a lot of great things to say. The video is quite long - 29 minutes. It looks to be some kind of local tv program from New York, but it was worth watching. Follow this link: http://irenasvow.com/videos.