What Survives is the Fire

Author(s): Barbara Schwartz
What Survives is the Fire is a series of interconnected stories that explore the multigenerational effect of the Holocaust. The play features a cast of characters who transcribe, sing, and mythologize their memories of trauma and love.  The plot centers on two family lines, the Reznicks and the Singers. Jenya, the Singer matriarch, is a loving yet dominating force in her family, who insists they preserve her sordid and disparate recollections of the Holocaust.  In contrast, Arthur Reznick, a reluctant family man, struggles to forget his experience as a liberator of the concentration camp.
Format: Verse play/Tone play
Cast Size:6M,4W
Character breakdown:

Jenya Lidyhower: Bayla and Ethan’s grandmother; Hannah and Lev’s mother; wife to Philip; Polish Holocaust survivor; speaks with an eastern European accent; sharp-tongued, loyal, proud, witty, unwaveringly judgmental and tough on her family.

Philip Singer: Bayla and Ethan’s grandfather; Hannah and Lev’s father; husband to Jenya; Holocaust survivor; Polish, speaks with an eastern European accent, soft-spoken, sensitive, anxious, nurturing, dislikes talking about he survived the Holocaust.

Rose Wechsler: Bayla and Ethan’s grandmother; Seth and Ian’s mother; loving and loyal wife to Arthur; speaks with a light New York accent; stay-at-home mother; practical, selfish, cold; desperately wanted to have a daughter.

Arthur Reznick:  Bayla and Ethan’s grandfather; Seth and Ian’s father; loving and loyal husband to Rose; fought in WW II and liberated Dachau; speaks with a light New York accent; has a cruel streak and a sardonic sense of humor; miserly.

Hannah Singer: Bayla and Ethan’s mother; daughter of Jenya and Philip; divorced from Seth and remarried; sensitive, anxious, effusive, nurturing, similar in character to her father; cannot talk about her parents’ experiences during the Holocaust.

Lev Singer: Brother to Hannah; son of Jenya and Philip; speaks with a light New York accent; religious, proud, volatile, straight; similar in character to his mother, Jenya.

Seth Reznick: Bayla and Ethan’s father; son of Rose and Arthur; divorced from Hannah; spontaneous, creative, mendacious, narcissistic, miserly like his father; when not working, spends all of his time fishing on his boat.

Bayla Reznick: Married to Matthew; daughter of Hannah and Seth; sister to Ethan; granddaughter of Jenya, Philip, Rose, and Arthur; niece of Lev; neurotic, empathetic, bookish, consumed with understanding her family’s past.

Ethan Reznick: Son of Hannah and Seth; brother to Bayla; grandson of Jenya, Philip, Rose, and Arthur; nephew of Lev; gambling addict; fights constantly with family members yet fiercely loyal; passionate, intelligent, gay.

Matthew Kaplan: Married to Bayla; wise, patient, steadfast, doting.


Date of authorship: 7/2017


Original or Prominent Production:
Boomerang Theater, NYC, First Flight Festival, Reading, 12/15/18
Nationality of Author: U.S.
Original Language: English

Individual poems from the play have been published in various literary journals.

Production Rights Holder:

Barbara Schwartz

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