'Etty' heads to Camden library
Camden — "Etty," a 60-minute, one-woman show written and adapted by Susan Stein, is based on the diaries and letters of Etty Hillesum. Hillesum chronicled life in occupied Amsterdam and the Westerbork concentration camp and was killed in Auschwitz. The touring play will be presented Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at the downtown Camden Public Library. The performance is free.
Accompanied only by a suitcase, Stein as Etty sits alone on a bare stage. In a conversation with the audience as she is about to be deported to Auschwitz, Etty offers a new form of resistance, with wry humor, deep sensuality and unflinching honesty. In her own words, Etty states, “If I should not survive, how I die will show me who I really am.” Although paradoxically she loves much of her life in occupied Amsterdam and even, later, in the Westerbork concentration camp, she also finds it horrible. She is, for instance, agonized by her position on the Jewish Council, which she feels makes her complicit in the Nazi deportations, but also allows her, for a time, to protect her family.
Etty’s struggles are contemporary, mirroring many of our own at a time when it remains easier for many to ignore news of human rights violations,” said Stein. Moving beyond its historical context, "Etty" ultimately addresses issues of human nature and its complexity with regards to issues of human rights and genocide.
"he asks us to consider our own responsibility today, in a world where the promise of ‘never again’ has not yet been realized," said Stein.
Stein adapted "Etty" from Hillesum’s diaries and letters. Stein picked up the diaries in 1994 for 50 cents at a yard sale after a friend recommended it. After reading the diaries, she wanted to give something back to Etty and keep her memory alive.