Emily Zacharias Brings a Family Letter THROUGH THE DARKNESS

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Emily Zacharias as “Helen

MEET EMILY ZACHARIAS:

WorkShop Theater is lucky to reap the benefits of the many exceptional talents of Emily who is a literary associate, founding member and is now serving on the Board. This terrific actress will portray “Helen” in the upcoming Main Stage production this March of THROUGH THE DARKNESS.

Highlights of Emily’s acting career include:

Favorite Broadway: JEKYLL & HYDE

Favorite Off-Broadway: OLYMPUS ON MY MIND

Favorite Natl tour: COMPANY

Favorite Regional: THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO

Favorite Off-Off: FULL FRONTAL at The Workshop

 

We spoke to Emily to ask what attracted her to THROUGH THE DARKNESS, the role of “Helen” and what it’s like working on the production. She says: 

My husband and I always laugh at that question posed to actors… I’m  attracted to roles I’m offered!  But really, this script carries a special responsibility…

Helen Dychterman Draznin witnessed the worst that can happen to a person and still live to tell the tale.  In “Through the Darkness” she struggles with the absurd unyielding truth of that, but arrives at a certain philosophic wisdom, while being mightily aware of the irreparable damage to her psyche.  She’s complex.  She opens up to the audience about the confusion of questions left inside her.  It’s a privilege to breathe this air.  

There was a letter in my family that I knew about… but, it had been quite a while since I saw it.  It’s dated June 23, 1946 and it begins, “My dear Beloved Aunt and Uncle and your children may you always be happy”…

Ita Berman Glick recounts the brutal stories that took so many of my paternal grandfather’s family.  It’s the story of burnings and slaughters, of the Oshmana Ghetto, the Wilna Ghetto, the Kovne Ghetto.  It’s the story of people living underground without air or water, choking their own to death for fear of cries that would alert Germans, and people who lost their minds while hiding.  

Early on, Ita says, “My dear ones, you are asking me to write to you about our dear ones and beloved ones and the never forgotten ones.  You want to know what happened to them.  It is rather very hard for me to describe to you all that happened.  I cannot even believe that all our dear ones are gone from us- the very ones I lived with, hoped with, and dreamed about the future together.  They were my entire hope for a better future, but today I am left lonely, all alone from among all of them.  It seems it was destined that I love through all of this and attest with my own eyes to all that happened.”

How much more personally relevant can a part be?  I suppose I have the opportunity to speak for this second cousin, to give her experience voice again, and show respect through Alan’s elegantly researched play.

As to our post-election world… our troubled, but welcoming, country of difference which progressive Americans have proudly modeled is now being mocked and uprooted and we hardly recognize the dogma that is being spoken in our names.  This is such a shameful moment we have to endure.  Being a part of a play that bears witness to the WWII genocide feels strangely … right.  Retelling this story isn’t any kind of corrective or solace, but there is a frightening kind of balance in reaching back to a 20th century nightmare as we daily contemplate a terrifying loss of American leadership, balance and civility. 

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