By HELEN KAYEBorn Guilty
Adapted, translated and directed by Boaz Trinker
From the book by Peter Sichrovsky
Kolisot Theater, Tzavta
We here, accept it or not, live under the shadow of the Holocaust. It dominates not only many of our perceptions, but the way we respond to a given situation, so a theater piece like Born Guilty (1988) comes with a lot of baggage.
The play is based on a series of interviews Austrian Jewish author Peter Sichrovsky did with the adult children and grandchildren of Nazi war-criminals. These are not verbatim recollections; rather compilations of the data acquired.
The Khan Theater in 1988 produced Austrian Jewish playwright George Tabori's version of it, which is a series of monologues.
Boaz Trinker's adaptation has Peter (the author, who Trinker also plays) bringing together six of these children with the idea of nurturing a dialogue that may induce them, at the very least, to confront openly their parents' and grandparents' ghastly actions.
It doesn't. What occurs is a dissonant concerto of evasions with an underlying theme of victimhood. Reactions among the children range from granddaughter Stefanie's (Ana'el Blumental) defiantly willful ignorance cum approbation to Reiner's (Lior Doron) fanatical self-abasement.
What emerges most clearly is that, like Holocaust survivors, these relicts of Nazi parents are horribly damaged. What emerges even more clearly is that we have no compassion for them. They "deserve" their suffering.
Never mind that the level of performance is uneven, the play itself is riveting because of the questions it poses vis-Ã -vis attitudes and relationships in our own society - here, now and for the future. Theater does not happen in a vacuum. Trinker seats his actors among the audience deliberately, not as a gimmick, but in order to make a statement. And each of the characters must face his or her parent's impaled clay bust that at the end of the piece faces the audience.
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