Articles & Press


Release: National Jewish Theater Foundation / Holocaust Theater Archive May 2012

Conference Report Submitted by Arnold Mittelman President NJTF/HTA

The National Jewish Theater Foundation (NJTF) and NJTF President Arnold Mittelman are pleased to announce the successful completion of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation-sponsored Holocaust Theater Archive (HTA) Conference. The National Jewish Theater Foundation / Holocaust Theater Archive Conference took place in Miami in two sessions: May 15th - 16th and May 22nd - 23rd. The agenda was the same for both sessions, with different participants for each round. The conference encompassed a distinguished gathering of Holocaust scholars, theater practitioners, digital archivists and academicians from across the United States, engaged in a discourse regarding the future of this important initiative.

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Speech: Arnold Mittelman to Association of Holocaust Organizations on 1/10/12

Holocaust Theater: Representation or Misrepresentation

I wish to thank Bill Shulman, President of the Association of Holocaust Organizations, and member of the National Jewish Theater Foundation/Holocaust Theater Archive Advisory Board, for inviting me to make this presentation to you, his constituents, at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Facts are not the enemy of art, and art is not the enemy of facts. However, humankind often sees everything subjectively, even as we aspire to see the world objectively. Everything we see, touch, and feel is subject to individual interpretation. The late great Italian author Luigi Pirandello’s plays often examine how it is impossible to look at something truly objectively, since we are always looking at things subjectively through our own experience and understanding. And to a great extent, that is the power of theater: it has the ability to be seen individually and understood personally, defying all our collective attempts to view it objectively.

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Article: Dr. Michael Berenbaum, Director, American Jewish University

What the Survivor and Historian Know
Detente Between Those Who Lived the Shoah and Study It

Jeff Cohen’s “The Soap Myth,” as produced by the National Jewish Theater Foundation and directed by Arnold Mittleman, has brought to life on the New York stage the inherent tensions between Holocaust historians and Holocaust survivors over facts and interpretation of facts. Time and again, survivors speak of the Nazis’ making human fat into soap, while Holocaust historians say that, at best, there is insufficient evidence to support that claim.

When, during its creation, I was project director at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, I rejected the display of a cake of soap. So, too, did my colleagues at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and at Auschwitz and Majdanek in Poland. Rather than go into the minutiae of detail regarding the soap, however, it is worthwhile to consider the relationship between survivor testimony and historical fact..

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Article: Juan Mayorga, Playwright

The Theatrical Representation of the Holocaust

The image that many of us have of the Shoah is nurtured less from historians' books than from artistic representations, some of which are offered by the theatre. This is not a new phenomenon. Many Athenians probably adopted the image of the Greeks’ victory against Xerxes presented by Aeschylus in “The Persians,” and many Spaniards of the 17th century likely accepted the image of the victory of the modern centralist state on the residual feudalist order offered by Lope de Vega in “Fuente Ovejuna.” Because its nature of bringing people together and, having therefore, a political character, theatre has been an especially apt medium to feed collective memories.

The theatre was more than likely the first medium used to record history. Before there was scripture or even speech, people used theatrics to share their experiences. Perhaps, the first man who saw fire mimicked his encounter with it to illustrate it to another man and he, in turn, to a third man, thus, at the same time, inventing theatre and history. In any case, no other medium presents the past in the present with the intensity of the theatre, such that individuals of another time are revived – reincarnated – by people here and now. If, in general, to use the terminology of Ortega y Gasset in his “The Idea of Theatre,” the actor disappears – he becomes transparent – so that the character can gain reality – visibility – such a transformation is basic to historical theatre in that the character created is not a product of the imagination but rather a real character from another time. The actor disappears in order to reveal a man who was and will be again during the play.

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Release: National Jewish Theater Foundation/Holocaust Theater Archive
to Hold International Conference in 2012

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant to support conference and advance the archive and web site

MiamiNational Jewish Theater Foundation President and Producing Artistic Director Arnold Mittelman has announced the organization will host an invitation-only conference in 2012 to help advance its Holocaust Theater Archive and web site.

The Foundation has received a $60,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation which, in part, will support the international conference that will be held in South Florida. Participants will be selected from Holocaust leaders in the field, scholars, educators, artists, funders and survivors. The conference will also include the involvement of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute and worldwide museums, memorials and theaters.

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