Scranton High Knight Players are pleased to announce two programs revealing the extraordinary story of Sala Garncarz Kirschner’s survival and courage during the Holocaust.
Scranton High Knight Players will present the play, “LETTERS TO SALA,” by Arlene Hutton and based on the book, “Sala’s Gift” by Ann Kirshner, on November 16 & 17, at 7pm and November 18 at 2 pm, in the Performing Arts Center, 63 Mike Munchak Way. Tickets are $10 for Adults and $8 for Students and Seniors and will be available November 1, 2018
“LETTERS TO SALA” centers on Sala Garncarz, a 16-year-old in 1940 when her older sister received a letter to report for what was supposed to be six weeks of paid work. Because her sister was too ill, Sala went in her place and was sent from her home to Geppersdorf, a German forced labor camp. She was liberated in 1945 and came to America as a war bride. Sala never spoke of her wartime experience. In 1991, on the eve of major surgery, the 67-year-old grandmother revealed more than 300 letters and photos, collected and hidden as she had struggled to survive five years and seven Nazi labor camps.
“Letters to Sala” draws from the emotional journey that begins for both Sala and her daughter, Ann, when the letters resurface. Through scholarly research, Ann discovers that her mother has made a historically significant impact on Holocaust documentation. Ann’s study of the letters throws Sala into the past again as she relives her youth. Playwright Arlene Hutton drives the two stories to a single question: What is to be done with these letters? If Sala risked her life to hold on to them as a young woman imprisoned in a work camp, are they merely the emotional relics of her past life? Or are they worthy and important historical documents that demand to be shared with the public? It’s truly an engaging story for all ages.
With dialogue taken directly from actual letters, the production features a stellar cast of Scranton Knight Player talent, with Celia Condon as Sala; Kaitlyn Dolphin as Sala’s daughter, Ann; and Olivia Spory as young Sala. The rest of the cast of twenty is comprised of students from Director, Jenny Brotherton’s advanced Speech and Drama Classes.
In conjunction with this production, the SHS Knight Players will host the traveling exhibition of Sala Garncarz Kirschner’s letters and photographs, “LETTERS TO SALA: A YOUNG WOMAN’S LIFE IN NAZI LABOR CAMPS,” This exhibition, features a compelling collection of rare Holocaust-era letters and photographs. It will be on display in the Scranton High School lobby, before and after each performance. The exhibit is overseen by curator Dr. Jill Vexler, and maintained by the New York Public Library and the French Children of the Holocaust Foundation. It features high-resolution scans of the
original letters from Sala Garncarz, a Holocaust survivor who, during her five years in seven Nazi labor camps, saved about 350 letters, postcards, photographs, scraps of paper with scribbled notes and other documents, documents which she carefully hid in her barracks or sewed into her clothing. For Sala, the letters provided evidence that her world still existed outside the camps. Saving the letters became inextricably linked with preserving her own life.
This traveling exhibition was inspired by the New York Public Library installation because the originals could not leave the library. It was originally installed in the Wachenheim Gallery of the New York Public Library, and was visited by about 26,000 people in three months. Scholars have declared this collection to be one of the great treasure troves of its kind. It was called by one to be, “the greatest find since Anne Frank’s Diary.”