Elizabeth Bolton and Gail rosen perform the story of German-Jewish Holocaust survivor Hilda Cohen.
Elizabeth Bolton and Gail rosen perform the story of German-Jewish Holocaust survivor Hilda Cohen.

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For Tomorrow: Story & Poetry of Hilda Stern Cohen
Goethe-Institut- Gallery

Remaining Performances:
Sunday, July 13 @ 5 pm
Wednesday, July 16 @ 7pm

They say: “Theatre, storytelling, music, and prayer come together in this uniquely moving program portraying the life and poetry of German-born Holocaust survivor Hilda Stern Cohen. Performed by storyteller Gail Rosen, based on her interviews with Cohen, and singer and Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton. Recently performed in Poland, Austria, Germany and Israel.”

Sheffy says: Maybe it was the Holocaust theme that attracted a slightly older than average Fringe audience, but Fringe is blessed to be the home for such a powerful show.Storyteller Gail Rosen did not choose this topic, it was Hilda Stern Cohen that chose Gail to make sure her story got told.Gail takes that charge seriously in a project that’s been 13 years in the making and will be released this fall on DVD.

It bears witness to the story of a human life—one in which humanity itself was challenged, but prevailed. The lights in the house are left on, allowing the audience to share their collective reactions (but I also had to fight the urge to interrupt with questions, since it felt like a classroom). As people around me were moved to tears, I heard them unconsciously joining in the prayers as they were chanted on stage.

Gail’s performance is flawless, but almost unnoticed, for it is Hilda’s voice that transports us to Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz.Only after Hilda’s death in 1997 did her husband discover a trove of her poetry on scraps of paper written over 50 years ago. English translations are provided, but I found the all the paper distracting. To temper the dramatic angst, stories are interspersed with prayers and Hilda’s poetry set to live music, beautifully composed for the show by William Gilcher of the Goethe-Institut. I never thought German could sound so, well, poetic.

See it if: You wonder if religious faith really has the power to keep someone alive.

Skip it if: You think a Fringe show must be lewd, crude, skewed, or nude.