Steamship Quanza

A play written in seventeen scenes, that chronicles the true story of the S.S. Quanza, a steamship that carried Jewish refugees from Lisbon in 1940. Not permitted to disembark in Mexico, the ship arrived in Hampton Roads, Virginia with over eighty Jewish passengers, where two married U.S. Jewish attorneys fought to keep them from returning to Europe. Finally, due to the intervention of Eleanor Roosevelt, they were able to leave the ship. The play includes historical figures, such as Rabbi Stephen Wise, Breckinridge Long, and Eleanor Roosevelt as well as fictional versions of actual persons, including the attorneys.
Format: Historical drama
Cast Size:6M/4F
Character breakdown:
Ben Abrams: Late 30s. A lawyer. Son of immigrant Russian Jews.

Darcy Abrams: Late 30s. A lawyer. Ben’s wife. Raised in Virginia, granddaughter of German JewsDavid Abrams: 15. Ben and Darcy’s son.Gerhardt Wolff: Mid-50s. Prosperous German Jew.

Anna Wolff: Late teens. Gerhardt’s daughter.

Ida Lipschultz: Late 20s. Polish Jew from small village./JULIA MILLSTEIN: Mid-30s. Darcy Abrams’ sister-in-law.

Helman Levy: Early 30s. Hungarian Jewish musician/RAY GIBBON Late 30s. Garage owner in Hampton Roads.

Patrick Malin: Late 20s. Official of the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees./Tom McPherson: Early 30s. A dockworker in Virginia.

Breckinridge Long**    50s. Assistant Secretary of State/ Judge Luther Way     50s. Federal District Judge, Norfolk, Virginia.
Eleanor Roosevelt/Mary Jane Sutcliffe   40s. Society columnist and wife of local publisher
Notes:

See Gene A. Plunka Staging Holocaust Resistance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, pp. 135–154.

Snapshot

Original or Prominent Production:
Chicago Dramatists Workshop, 1991
Original Source Material: S.S. Quanza incident - historical documents
Nationality of Author: U.S.
Original Language: English
Publisher:

Palgrave Macmillan, 2012

Production Rights Holder:

Susan Lieberman & Stephen J Morewitz

Experience(s) Chronicled: Escape | Rescue

Browse the Plays

Play Index

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

HTC Insights

Views, reference and research of interest.

A Personal Welcome to the Holocaust Theater Catalog

A Message from Arnold Mittelman After a career in not-for-profit and commercial theater spanning more than 40 years I was honored in 2007 to found the National Jewish Theater / Foundation and in 2010 to assume leadership of its Holocaust Theater International...

Many Questions and a Few Answers

by Robert Skloot 2022 NJTF HTII Lifetime Achievement Award AHO Winter Conference, Miami, FL I’d like to begin my remarks by asking the question that all of us have been asked often: “Why do you do the work you do?” There are, of course, many answers, but I’d imagine...