Life? Or Theater?: The Charlotte Salomon Project
Directed by Jessica Brater
Dramaturgy by Miriam Felton-Dansky
Produced by Stacey Cooper McMath and Catherine Wallach
Stage Manager Elizabeth Emmons
Conceived and adapted by Jessica Brater and Miriam Felton-Dansky from text by Charlotte Salomon, with additional writing by Jacob Burstein-Stern, Elizabeth Emmons, Andrew Gilchrist, Avi Glickstein, and Katya Schapiro.
Cast: Jacob Burstein-Stern, Samantha Debicki, Andrew Gilchrist, Avi Glickstein, Rebekah Mindel, Elaine O'Brien, Molly Parker-Meyers, Katya Schapiro, Lisette Marie Silva, Ari Vigoda
Lighting Design by Marnie Cumings and Natalie Robin
Set Design by Kanae Heike
Costume Design by Karen Flood
Original Music by Jason Binnick
Charlotte Salomon was a Jewish artist who was born in Berlin and escaped to the south of France during the Second World War. While in exile she created 1,300 paintings over the course of two years, depicting her family's history, her sheltered and highly cultured girlhood during the rise of the Nazi regime, her development into an artist, and her troubled love for her stepmother's vocal coach. The paintings survived the war and Salomon's death at the hand of the Nazis, and have since traveled the world as an exhibition. Inspired by her life and the vividness of her voice, we set about experimenting with ways of adapting to the stage the imagery from the paintings, Salomon's accompanying text, and the music she referenced as a soundtrack to her Gesamtkunstwerk (synthesis of the arts, or a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms).
Polybe + Seats developed The Charlotte Salomon Project collaboratively starting in the winter of 2005 and showed portions of the work in progress at The Tank, The Voice & Vision ENVISION Retreat for Women Theater Artists, The Red Room, and Brooklyn Fire Proof, and as part of Mabou Mines/Suite. After a fall 2006 residency as part of Mabou Mines/Suite, Polybe + Seats presented a workshop at Mabou Mines followed by a three-week run at Brooklyn Fire Proof, in Williamsburg in November 2006.
In April of 2007, The Charlotte Salomon Project travelled to Ann Arbor to perform at the University of Michigan as part of the inaugural season of the Walgreen Drama Center. This production was supported by the Charlotte Salomon Foundation and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.