The Escape Act – A Holocaust Memoir


The Escape Act (formerly Run Away, Join the Circus) is a one-woman theater show combining circus and puppets, based on true events in the life of Irene, a young Jewish acrobat in Nazi Germany, and on its intersections with the performer's present-day life. ​Irene, a descendent of the legendary Lorch circus family, survived the Holocaust hiding and working at the German Althoff Circus. She and her family were embraced by the circus owner Adolf Althoff and his wife Maria, and passed the years of World War II performing on its stage, running to hide whenever the Nazis came for inspections. ​The show goes back and forth between past and present, between character and performer, and combines the historical events of Irene's life with the experiences of the performer as a third generation of Holocaust survivors and with memories from her own family. As the performer “travels” through Irene's life, it triggers her own memories of family stories, of past traumas and struggles, and as the past grows closer to her she is forced to invite it in.
Format: 1 woman show
Cast Size: 1W
Character breakdown

​1 woman show

Written and Performed by Stav Meishar
Based on the life of Irene Danner-Storm



​The show examines Irene’s life between 1933 and 1945: from a young teen experiencing the rise of the Third Reich, through joining the circus undercover, to falling in love and starting her own family – all under the protection of the Althoff Circus from the threat of the Nazis.
Much of the show happens on a static trapeze, the mental place in which Irene remembers her time at the Althoff Circus. The puppets, mostly found objects and shadow puppets, are the other characters inhabiting her world as told through her eyes. She juggles, clowns, and brings her experiences and the people who shared them to life.

The show can be booked as a stand-alone, or in combination with an exhibition and/or a workshop:

We have a touring exhibition which we recommend setting up outside the show venue that audiences can get acquainted with the themes before entering the theater. This is a historical exhibition on Circus Jews Under National Socialism, made in conjunction with the academic team Diverging Fates. Using photographs, life stories and testimonies, the exhibition sheds light on a golden era of Jewish Circus in Europe, and the effects the nazi regime had on its people and businesses.

Another option is a hands-on workshop post-show with the performer. Each hosting venue could choose between a circus workshop in which participants will learn basic circus skills in areas such as juggling, clowning, acro-balance and more; or a drama workshop, workshopping monologues and scenes based on testimonies from Holocaust survivors.

Lastly, as our own “tikkun olam” effort to give back to the community who hosts us, and to include the elders whose lives were forever changed by similar events to those depicted in our show: In every local community / town / venue this project presents in, Holocaust survivors and their caregivers are welcome to attend free of charge.

For more see
The show will be in residency this summer in Finland, where it will receive its world premier and is later set for a small UK tour in Fall 2019.
Original Source Material: Based on the life of Irene Danner-Storm
Nationality of Author:

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