Responses to the Two Staged Readings of VILNA

VILNA had an initial staged reading at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on February 6, 2018.  Approximately 250 people attended. The play was significantly revised after the first reading and a second staged reading was held on June 18, 2018. Below are some of the comments received from the approximately 400 people who attended the staged readings.

“The play blew me away. It was awesome.”

“I thought it was riveting. A lot of actors to keep track if but easy to follow.”

“Very well done.”

“It was excellent. Horrible that man can do this to man but if we see it and it disgusts us, it has served its purpose.”

“I was riveted by the whole performance I was brought to tears The cast was excellent and it was a great production. You all did a great job. Keep going.”

“The message was powerful, and the premise was compelling.”

“I thought it was very compelling. The first act was riveting.”

“Hugely ambitious tapestry. Would want to see again and imagine fully staged.”

“It wasn’t what I expected – which is why it was so compelling.”

“I did not count on the brutality of the event to be so specific and to effect me the way it did-I wanted to run away (at intermission) but didn’t.”

“Very compelling and ambitious.”

“This was our first experience of a “reading”. My Husband and I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to the play.”

“I was in every place with each character.”

“Better than expected for a play reading.”

“It was very powerful and moving. The acting was superb. I was surprised this was only the third time the cast had been through it.”

“Excellent dialogue. Thought the actors were, for the most part, wonderful especially considering the short rehearsal period. The most important and timely subject matter. The characters humanity was beautifully depicted.”

“The actors did a great job. The story was such a heartbreaking and interesting part of history that I didn’t know much about. So I very much enjoyed being able to experience this work of theater.”

“The feeling was to listen closely so I would not miss anything.”

“The whole play was beautiful and I was on the edge of tears the entire time.”

“Very literate, impressive production,emotionally moving.”

“I was impacted by the story and was able to relate the racism and discrimination to what we have experienced in this country even today in 2018.”

“Outstanding. Riveting despite the grim nature of the material. The writing is excellent, the characters well drawn, the narrative compelling. I have some suggestions below.”

“I found the entire play compelling — emotional “

“I enjoyed it very much and felt tighter than the original. The actors were more engaged with each other.”

“Outstanding in every respect!”

“I enjoyed the level of detail and insight into the lives of the characters especially prior to the holocaust.”

“The play was powerful and the script was emotional. The performers were strong and credible.”

“Enjoyed first time however am very impressed by this strong rewrite”

“Well acted, well written and moving.”

“Excellent writing, directing and acting.”

“I have seen a lot of Holocaust-related productions, but this one added important information and perspective and focused on aspects of the history I had not heard before.”

“Very powerful play-as a proud first Generation Jewish American the play -the facts are very painful”

“Emotionally exhausting”

“Well presented with intensity that kept me involved. “

“I loved it and in our present political climate it seems so poignant.  I look forward to seeing it on stage as I believe it will really come to true life through stage movement and scenery.  The cast were wonderful.”

“It brings history to life and bears witness to events that nobody knows about. No matter what you think you know about WWII and Vilna – this play will change you.”


“Well done”

“I am a black Jewish woman and this play really spoke to me on the perspective of being black in America and in respect on how the Jewish people were treated in Europe. The play had a lot of intricate symbolism that really made a lasting impression. Thank you.”

“Interesting, well written – important history.  Would like to see more young people coming.”

“I learned a lot about the history of Vilna, which I knew nothing about, and the Jewish community there and the territorial disputes. I was a bit unsure how closely the drama hews to facts and would like that more clearly spelled out, perhaps in the program (under “spoiler alert” or something). Did they really burn down the hospital? Are the characters real? etc.”

“A really solid story and the historical context of the reality that these people faced.  “

“The insight into the characters’ lives and how it relates to today in the US where many think it can’t happen “

“The mastery of dramatization and dialogues. The script was compelling, and the logic for various characters were well detailed”

“The writing successfully displayed the dilemma of a cultured, educated society that could not imagine the depravity that ensued.”

“I found the play very educational and moving.”

“The historical research was woven into the story brilliantly.  The two main characters are strong, and the plot is well-conceived.  It hangs together as a story, and a compelling one at that.  And you learn some things about the people and the place that are really interesting.  This is a very strong piece of work.  “

“Well written-well acted-reminds us of a terrible time in our history as a people-Jewish people”

“I especially liked the way the story brought to life the vibrancy of the city of Vilna. And the dialogue was terrific – modern but not too modern – with a certain lightness and humor interwoven through it.  “

“The performances and attention to historical detail (I love Fania Lewando!)”

“The whole story and history of Vilna as presented in the play and my fervent belief in the need to keep the stories alive. “

“That it is so “present tense.” A warning and a parable for our times – as much as it is essential history.”

“This is a must see to anyone who’s a descendant of Holocaust survivor/s and any person interested in Jewish history.”

“Insightful message for all people to see an hear especially now. Never again.”

“A riveting play about the triumph of love and the human spirit during the darkest of times.”

“The story of Vilna is one that everyone should hear. The resilience and downfall of humanity are both captured in its history.  Well done!”

“A powerful and thoroughly engaging story of the triumph of the human spirit”

“I was not aware of the story of VILNA.  This play brought a humanity and context to the horrors and the hope that played out in many cities and towns during the Second World War.  The balance of deep characters and historical context reminds us of the horrors of the past, the parallels to our present and can serve to ensure we do not repeat these horrors in present times.”

“The character development vis a vis the dialogue was utterly convincing. The casting was perfection, the story was soul shattering and enlightening at the same time.  For how many years did we ask, “how did Jews stand by and, worse, how did they work with the Nazis?” This play explained it in ways that made so much sense.  The antagonists brought sadism to a new level of sheer inhumanity.   The overall message about monsters being in power is timely, made abundantly clear by the closing monologue. I loved it; I admired every aspect of it.  “

“Vilna is a must see. It’s important for everyone to walk in the shoes of the characters before during and after the Holocaust.”

“Meticulously researched, extremely well written play about a time and place that must not be forgotten—ever!”

“Vilna is a necessary production for this political climate; the current generations needs to see how simple it is to completely destroy and entire generation with simple policy changes.”

“I have seen a lot of dramas relating to this period in history, but this play adds some new and important and vital to the discussion.  It brims with historical authenticity and lights up a dark corner of the Holocaust that the world needs to see.”

“This play must be seen. The story of Vilna is a story not to be forgotten. It is the history of persecution, familial strength, and perseverance in the face of hopelessness. It is “our” human connection. “

“A thoughtful and educational presentation of the horrors of the Holocaust and how one city and the Jewish community just disappeared. “

“VILNA is painful to watch and it should be. Let this never happen again! To any person, gender or race!”

“This play movingly and thoughtfully captures a terrible time in our human history. It’s something we need to keep studying because we seem destined to repeating ourselves.”

“We must never forget what has happened in history yet in our present American political climate it seems to be repeating and as the world in the ’30’s didn’t take notice, we must take notice now.  “

“This play should be a part of our school curriculum. Kids need to understand that fascism doesn’t just happen overnight. Passive complicity as dangerous for us as it was for the Jews of Vilna.”

“Powerful, gut ranching”

“Very moving and good”