Comments to the Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO) Conference

Teresa Eyring
Executive Director Theatre Communications Group (TCG)
AHO Conference, Miami, FL

TCG is a national organization for theatre, based in New York. Our mission is to lead for a just and thriving theatre ecology. And we have numerous programs and services, such as conferences, research, publishing of plays, and American Theatre magazine, grantmaking, and federal advocacy.

My involvement in the NJTF Holocaust Theater International Initiative began at the very first meeting in Miami 10 years ago. I vividly remember that first meeting sitting around the table and hashing out how this new platform could work. And it is exciting to see a continuing commitment to the program and to utilizing the vast catalog of plays to ensure that the atrocities of the Holocaust are not forgotten or denied.

Over the years, TCG has helped spread the word to theatres across the country about the Remembrance Readings, encouraging them to participate by staging a reading and conversations around the play.

TCG has close to 500 member theatres across the US. Past participants in the readings include North Coast Repertory, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, Illusion Theatre, The Old Globe. Sometimes multiple theatres work together. community center and museums have read the same play in multiple venues. For example, in 2017 Dialogs by Elie Wiesel was done in multiple locations across the country.

Even though my organizations have participated in–and I am grateful to all of them–we need to double, triple, quadruple those numbers and impact. And so, I am extremely thrilled to announce that TCG will be helpful in pairing theatre companies with Holocaust Museums across the country to amplify these efforts.

The goal is not only to increase participation, but also to be able to deepen the conversations and actions that come out of the Remembrance Readings over time. To foster a movement that increases Holocaust awareness and the resounding pledge: Never Again.

It is especially important now. With antisemitism and acts of hatred and hostility increasing, with a reduced sense of safety at synagogues and in community settings, with antisemitic comments showing up more frequently in the entertainment sphere. Now is the time for us to double down on countering this violence and these horrific narratives.

Now it is more important than ever to lift up theatre as an artform that can transform, enlighten, build empathy, and foster activism toward awareness that counters antisemitism. And to quote and expand upon Michael Berenbaum’s words on this topic “Theater is the Counter Testimony,” the counter narrative that helps us see each other as humans equally entitled to a life of peace, safety  and security. Though we are far from this reality today, it is a dream worth fighting for.

It’s also important to recognize how deep the issues run historically in the US. After all, the Nazis learned how to codify racism by studying US racist/white supremacist laws and practices. Oppression in our country is complex and runs deep.

As we continue emerging from the COVID 19 pandemic, theatre has a larger role than ever in bringing about healing, restoring kindness and caring among all people–where it has diminished or been entirely lost.

But it is an uphill climb, since we are drowning in so many forms of electronic media that encourage people to stay at home, that fuels political divisiveness, in some cases to be more reactionary, rather than being reflective about and committed to how we function as a healthy society.

This Holocaust Theater Catalog is so unique. I don’t know of anything else quite like it. I love that it encourages people, whether or not they are trained actors, to participate in the readings.

And I look forward to continuing our partnership to expand access and use of the Holocaust Theater Catalog in the coming years, I know that these efforts will be amplified through collaboration with museums, and once again I look forward to the collaboration.

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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...

Honoring Elie and Marion Wiesel for Their Plays

Elie Wiesel’s Plays as Kaddish: The Sacred Duty to Remember and Resist By Prof. Lori R. Weintrob Director, Wagner College Holocaust Center This article is an expanded version of remarks presented by author in conjunction with the National Jewish Theater Foundation...