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A Palette of the Past

April 22, 2010 By:
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Drawing on memories, drawing on canvas: The Multicultural Theatre of the Galilee combines media of the mind and the arts to present "Sofia's Drawings," a daughter's multimedia mitzvah of a remembrance of both her mother's and grandmother's ties to the Shoah.

Efrat Hadani's healing work is part of a one-day Jewish Theatre Festival, to be staged on Sunday, April 25, at Bristol Riverside Theatre www.brtstage. org, in partnership with Theatre Ariel.

"Sofia's Drawings" is part of the palette, joining Tovah Feldshuh in her acclaimed one-woman performance as late Israel Prime Minister Golda Meir in "Golda's Balcony," as well as an art show and work by Theatre Ariel.

But the Galilee coming to the Riverside? They meet at a stream of inventiveness: The Arab-Israeli troupe, using minimum dialogue, creates theater through puppetry, constructions and body language.

Here, that body language adds to the body of Holocaust literature with a distinctive design: "Sofia's Drawings" is the muse/ memory of Hadani, dealing with the dynamic of drawings by her mother Sofia, who, at 16, used art as a hedge against the horrors of the Holocaust while in hiding, even as her mother, acclaimed children's book author Clara Asscher-Pinkoff, was incarcerated in concentration camps.

"We only found these drawings after my mother's death," says Hadani, "and hadn't known about them before," created while her mother "hid from the Nazis in Holland from 1943 to '45."

Sofia didn't draw on her ire, she drew -- perhaps not so ironically -- on her fantasies: "The drawings deal with fairy tales," says her daughter. "After all," muses Hadani of the then teen, "as a child, she was a storyteller."

Fairy tales can come true -- her mother survived the Holocaust, as did her grandmother, with both finding freedom eventually in Israel. Now, four years after Sofia's death, those drawings are freely expressing themselves on stage through her daughter's own artistry, so hands-on, thanks to Hadani's mastery at puppetry.

Indeed, the puppets express what possibly Sofia had such a hard time saying herself. "Because so many of her family had died during the Holocaust and she survived, my mother always felt guilty. When she talked about the Holocaust, it wasn't about herself but about how her family had suffered."

But the talk wasn't limited to the terror; she also expressed gratitude "to those [eight families] who took her in in Holland."

If Hadani is collaborating in spirit with her mother, then it is a family tradition: Sofia and her own mother had published a series of drawings together before Sofia went into hiding.

And now that "Sofia's Drawings" come to life on stage ... "We are letting," allows her daughter, "the art to speak for itself." 

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