“Fiction cannot recite the numbing numbers, but it can be that witness, that memory,” says author Jane Yolen of the genocide that occurred in Europe between 1941 and 1945. “A storyteller can attempt to tell the human tale, can make a galaxy out of the chaos.”
Stories continue to be told about the Holocaust which caused the deaths of approximately 6 million Jews (and approximately 5 million non-Jews,) and this is perhaps so that the period won’t be forgotten and perhaps also because new generations must repeatedly try to understand the horrific history.
Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have participated in the killing. A very few of them were Jews.
Blonde Poison, the next play offered by The Verona Studio, is based on the true story of one of those jews; Stella Goldschlag, a young Jewish woman who became a Nazi collaborator, personally entrapping and betraying up to 3,000 of her own people. It was written by Gail Louw, an award-winning British Jew whose life has been shaped by the deaths of both her mother’s parents in a concentration camp.
“I read the play and it’s compelling and it’s incredibly well-written,” says Verona Studio director Susan Coromel, speaking of what drew her to stage Blonde Poison in Salem. “I am not aware of any other story with this angle.”
Called “an astonishing piece of theater,” and “a masterpiece” with a conclusion that is a “coup de theatre,” by James Hogan of Oberon Books, the one-actor play is drawn from the biography, Stella, written by the real-life central character’s childhood friend in 1992.
“This is a 20-year old girl in an awful situation,” says Carol Adams Fritsche, who plays Goldschlag. Adams Fritsche may be recognized by local theatergoers from her performances with Salem Repertory Theatre, Pentacle Theatre and Keizer Homegrown Theatre, among others. “In 2015 it’s easy to say, ‘I would have been in the resistance.’ But it’s not black and white. This is a journey into one person’s psychological motivation.”
“Blonde Poison” was the name given Goldschlag by the Gestapo because of her classic blond good looks. Before her collaboration, she herself was betrayed, arrested and tortured by the Nazi party.
An examination of the human nature, Blond Poison tells the story of a young woman who playwright Louw calls “a cruel, awful, dreadful, evil person” but who, she says, is by no means inhuman. Louw asks, “What actually happens to people in extraordinary circumstances and situations?”
The play has been performed in many theaters in England and in Beverly Hills; this will be its Pacific Northwest premier.
Written by Gail Louw
Directed by Susan Coromel
Starring Carol Adams Fritsche
February 19, 20, 21, 27 & 28 and
March 6 & 7 – Show at 8pm
Matinees February 28 and
March 7 – Show at 2pm
Call (805) 657 7538
The Verona Studio
Reed Opera House
189 Liberty Street, NE Suite 215
Salem, OR 97301