PV Theatre production of “Letters to Sala” set to open


Jamie Ryu

The set for “Letters to Sala” consists of several platforms and benches, most of which were constructed by students.

Jamie Ryu, Staff Writer

The play “Letters to Sala” was written based off of a book about Holocaust survivor Sala Kirschner, who did not share her story for the longest time.

Tom and Merielle Lupfer, co-directors of PV Theatre productions, stumbled across the script while searching for a show that would accommodate a large cast with few male roles. Finding the story hopeful, they felt the little known story of Sala Kirschner should be shared.

There will be four showings of “Letters to Sala”: this Thursday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m.

“We are not only the first high school in New Jersey to do this show. We are presenting the New Jersey premiere,” Mr. Lupfer said. “No one has done this play in the state of New Jersey.”

The playwright Arlene Hutton will be attending the Saturday night performance and will be giving a talkback after the show, where audience members will have to opportunity to ask questions.

“Letters to Sala” consists of two stories, unfolding simultaneously on stage. Both the courageous journey of Sala Kirscher, Garncarz at the time, as she moves through labor camps and the story of Anne, Caroline, and Elizabeth Kirschner as they decide what to do with the letters.

“It’s a telling and amazing and powerful story that I feel everyone should know about,” said Amy Santo, a sophomore who is playing the role of Sala Garncarz as a young girl. “It’s not necessarily a tragedy because the ending is very hopeful; you get the sense that there is hope for anyone to survive.”

Sala Kirschner went off to a Nazi labor camp at the age of 16. Despite facing severe punishment if caught, she saved the letters she received from family and friends. Sala Kirschner survived the war and will be celebrating her seventieth wedding anniversary with her husband, Sidney Kirschner, this March.

Years later, after finding out about the letters, Caroline and Elizabeth Kirschner found themselves disagreeing with their mother, Anne Kirschner, about what to do with the letters. An argument ensued about whether to share the letters with the world or to keep them.

Anne Kirschner eventually published a book about Sala Kirschner, entitled “Sala’s Gift.” Caroline Kirschner has a blog sharing pictures from her grandparents’ lives.

An exhibit that was originally created for the New York Public Library is currently on display in Pascack Valley’s front lobby. The exhibit had also been on display at the US Capitol building. Mr. Lupfer and Mrs. Lupfer managed to get into contact with Dr. Jill Vexler, the curator of the exhibit, who arranged for the display to come to PV.

The display will remain at Pascack Valley until Nov. 30.