Wed. Feb 1st, 2023

In his two-part documentary movie collection “The Meeting,” playwright-performer Hershey Felder got down to inform the story of the late Eva Libitzky, a Holocaust survivor from Poland who spent a lot of her life sharing her story in school assemblies in America. Her hope was that — by way of schooling — historical past would by no means repeat itself.

However Felder has finished greater than that. He has created an sudden story of resilience, hope, bravery and the seek for identification informed by Libitzky herself in outdated movie clips, in addition to by the actress who portrays her within the movie and eight San Diego college students, who traveled to Poland with Felder and his movie crew in October.

The primary a part of “The Meeting” premiered Nov. 20 and is now streaming at hersheyfelder.web. The second half premieres at 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $19.

Again in 2019, Felder was planning to put in writing and produce “The Meeting” as a 2020 stage musical at San Diego Repertory Theatre, starring Broadway actor Eleanor Reissa as Libitzky and college students from the San Diego College of Artistic and Performing Arts as meeting attendees. However the pandemic arrived and Felder retreated to his dwelling in Florence, Italy, the place he started filming his massive canon of music-filled stage performs. Then, final June, San Diego Rep suspended operations.

To maintain the mission alive, Felder flew Reissa and the now college-age college students to Poland, the place they traced Libitzky’s steps from her childhood dwelling in Lodz to Jewish ghettos and cemeteries in Warsaw and Lodz and the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial museum. The invited college students journey as unscripted observers, usually visibly moved and tearful as they take up Libitzky’s story about her brother disappearing, her father ravenous to dying within the Lodz ghetto and the final time she hugged her mom on the practice to the Nazis’ Auschwitz dying camp.

Essentially the most transferring scene within the movie was shot on the Lodz Jewish cemetery, the place Libitzky returned in 1991 to meet the promise she made to her father in 1944 to mark his grave with a gravestone. Her son Moses, solemnly reads the Kaddish, the Hebrew prayer for the lifeless, and Felder sings “El Maleh Rachamim,” a sung prayer for departed souls.

Felder has informed all of his theatrical tales by way of music, so every of the scholars he recruited carry out musical theater songs, intercut with them telling their private tales. Although totally different from the lives of Libitzky and different Holocaust survivors, the scholars’ backstories replicate comparable and common themes of lack of household, poverty, discrimination and their seek for religion, identification and residential.

The movie crew and performers for Hershey Felder’s “The Meeting” movie enter the gates of the Auschwitz dying camp close to Krakow, Poland, on Oct. 16.

(Courtesy of Dena Meeder)

Alexander Meeder, 18, talks about how his mom’s efforts to defend him from discrimination by not embracing their Jewish heritage made him really feel misplaced as a younger man. Nonbinary actor-singer Romeo Boccarella talks about their journey towards discovering their gender identification. And Olive Benito talks about how her current prognosis on the autism spectrum helped her perceive the ostracism she endured as a youth.

Many others within the movie have Holocaust tales of their very own. Felder misplaced his prolonged Polish household within the Holocaust. Klezmer musician Igor Polesitzky speaks in regards to the Germans’ slaughter of Jews in his native Kiev, Ukraine. And the movie’s star, Reissa, shares how she found her father wasn’t only a Holocaust survivor, however a real fighter, as the one man who got here again alive from his transport practice to Auschwitz.

Though “The Meeting” is full of harrowing tales of homicide and grief, that darkness is leavened with joyful moments of tune and dance that commemorate life, neighborhood and the human spirit. The second movie will decide up with the movie crew and solid visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum.

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