In 1890, three Jewish sisters arrived in the Thuringian town of Altenburg where they soon opened up their own shop. Several years later, “M. & S. Cohn” had become the largest department store in the region. Marianne Cohn headed the company together with her husband Sally Bucky, and later their son-in-law Albert Levy became its managing director. The family’s social and cultural commitment significantly contributed to the economic and social welfare in the city. Yet in 1933, nobody did anything to stop the Nazis from dispossessing and imprisoning the family.
The Theater&Philharmonie Thüringen has collaborated with the Yoram Loewenstein Performing Arts Studio in Tel Aviv to examine this German-Jewish story against the background of the Shoah. Artists from Germany and Israel used it as the starting point for a joint theatre project that discussed historical experience, religiousness and nationalism. Current social conflicts, such as increasing Islamophobia and Israeli-Palestinian relations, had been integrated into the development of the piece. The production team has incorporated historical documents, German and Israeli songs and text fragments by well-known Jewish writers into the play, and has developed and rehearsed the piece at the Levy family’s former home in Altenburg. The Paul Gustavus House has been used as an open space for exhibitions, discussions and lectures where citizens had the chance to engage in dialogue with the project’s participants. German, English and Hebrew texts have been spoken and treated equally on stage. The performances have taken place at original historical venues in town which generated increased public awareness of this chapter of Altenburg history.
Artistic director: Bernhard Stengele
Writers: Mona Becker (D), Gaby Aldor (IL), Mahmoud Abo Arisheh (IL)
Dramaturgy: Svea Haugwitz
Director of Jaffa Theater Tel Aviv: Igal Ezraty (IL)
Director of Qarar House for Music, Theatre and Arts (Tel Aviv): Mohammad Kundas (IL)
Prop manager: Marianne Hollenstein (CH)
Musical director: Mohammad Kundas (IL)
Workshop Jaffa Theatre, Tel Aviv: 6–12 March 2017;
Introductory event/symposium Altenburg, Theater & Philharmonie Thüringen: 13 May 2017;