HISTORY of NOW
Act One begins with the iconic statement "All men are created equal" which is quickly followed by a series of tableaus (one from each decade) leading us back to a selection process in Poland. From this powerful introduction we are introduced to research journalist (Melissa O'Donnell) and Project Manager (Ashley Carter) who begin to discuss the failed insurrection the day before, and the correlation between events past and present. Is there really a difference between Andersonville, AKA Camp Sumter (the Confederate Prison of War Camp), and Auschwitz (the Nazi Death Camp) both notorious for their unhealthy conditions and high death rate. During the intense discussion, we are led into a flashback scene Muller Family on the back of O'Donnell's revealing question "What made ordinary people become killers, murderers of innocent men, women, and children? This question of accountability becomes the spine of the story that is fleshed out throughout the continuing story. A key element of the story is the introduction of holocaust survivor Ms. Krystyna Haeutmann who delivers a warm expression of her life, growing up with her family in Berlin. Germany. At times her words express sadness and loss that most of us will never truly comprehend, however it is delivered with the warmth, humility, and hope that refuses regret or anger, as she says "Anger is blinding" The emotion of her words are magnified as we are introduced to her as a young girl through cleverly carved out flashbacks that create these two time periods of the same character that stand like bookends that house between them an expressive array of a lifetime of lessons to be shared!
Ms. Krystyna's experiences continue to drive the narrative, as she discusses life after leaving her home and family in Germany, and finding herself once again under the shadow of the Nazis. The young girl now exists within the restrictions imposed by the enclosed overcrowded Warsaw ghetto. How it felt wearing the yellow star, witnessing the dehumanization and destruction through starvation, disease, and brutality. Melissa's mood shifts through the gears as she unravels her frustrations at the continuing unlearned lessons she witnesses today. The engagement between Melissa, Ms. Haeutmann, and Amber Flowers (who joins the discussion in Act One) intensifies further when Ashley Carter reappears and introduces a former Concentration Camp Guard Heidi Muller whom we see in a number of flashback scenes now appears as an elderly woman open to discussing her life and participation before, during and accepting her individual responsibility through the choices she made. The shift in dynamic creates an open dialogue that reflects much of the issues we now see again today, and this is where the question "where does the responsibility lay?" begin to develop.
To quote the title from one of my favorite movies "Life is Wonderful" That is the underlying message throughout, and that is never more apparent than in the final Act. Young Krystyna enters Auschwitz Concentration Camp, her strength of character and resolve is something that we can all now relate to given the present situation we find ourselves in. Although fear and death is the constant shadow of her daily existence she continues to find a reason to continue. However, In one moment of weakness, she is offered the chance to live. It is a seed of humanity that grows and highlights the importance and consequence of our decision-making and brings two lives together which by a different choice this story would never have happened! Where does the true responsibility lay?