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Under the Poplar Trees by Rosemary Frisino Toohey
August 14, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 2:00 PM
Two prisoners in the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany, one an idealist, the other a realist, become friends despite their differences. Meyer, the realist, longs for the courage to kill himself and bring an end to his misery, but the imaginative Josef is in love with life and everything in it, especially women.
Many years later, Meyer is living in the States with his wife, Clara, and he frequently finds himself lost in memories of his friend. He remembers how they sang together, how Josef coaxed him to dream, how they endured endless hours together standing at roll-call. Most of all he remembers how Josef died, wounded by the guards in a futile attempt to keep another prisoner from killing himself. He perished at the hands of the SS doctors in one of their ñmedicalî experiments and Meyer regrets how angry he was with his friend on that last awful night.
The spirit of Josef, meanwhile, does live on. Josef enjoys the company of the beautiful Desiree, but he re-visits his old friend often, always battling for a ñbetterî Meyer.
MeyerÍs grandson, Aaron, is a journalist writing about Holocaust survivors and he pleads with the old man to relate what he remembers. Aaron argues that every year there are fewer living survivors and that Meyer needs to tell what he remembers of Dachau before itÍs too late. But Meyer is adamant. Angry and bitter, he dismisses Aaron, refusing to share his concentration camp memories with anyone.
Then, Clara dies, and when Aaron visits his grandfather to express his condolences he tells Meyer that his as yet unborn child will be named after her if itÍs a girl. But Aaron says if itÍs a boy, heÍll name the child after Josef. Meyer finally recognizes his responsibility to tell JosefÍs story.
And JosefÍs spirit? Still loving life, he lives on.
Rosemary Frisino Toohey
Her first play was produced at Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York. Since then sheÍs had more than 175 productions of her work from New York to New Zealand and has won the Next Generation Playwriting Contest in New York, the Baltimore PlaywrightsÍ Festival (twice) and the Oglebay Institute National Towngate Theatre Contest (twice.) SheÍs also made Finalist in a dozen other national competitions including the Julie Harris Playwriting Awards, the Heideman Award, the SART Scriptfest, FutureFest in Dayton, and the Arts and Letters Prize. Six Frisino Toohey plays are now published and her work is included in the collections of dozens of university libraries from Harvard to the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. SheÍs won several Artist grants from the Maryland State Arts Council and is a member of The Dramatists Guild. When not writing she anchors on all-news 99.1 WNEW Radio and works frequently in film and on TV. ThereÍs more at: http://www.frisinotoohey.com/.