Bearden’s advanced acting class prepares for ‘Letters to Sala’


Taylor A. Johnson

Brian Nachtrab rehearses lines from his script.

Maggie Kimber, Staff Writer

In a place and time far removed from the horrors of World War II, Bearden’s advanced acting class is seeking to touch audiences with its upcoming performance of Letters to Sala – the real account of a young girl’s experience in a Nazi labor camp.

For the past few months, the play’s characters have been immersing themselves in the true story of Sala Garncarz, a Jewish girl who left Poland to take the place of her sister in a Nazi labor camp. Her six-week absence soon turned into a five-year sentence under Nazi oppression, the details of which she conveyed through letters sent home to family and friends.

Letters to Sala is acted out through two different perspectives; one in which Garncarz and her daughter are looking at the letters in the present day, and the other in which the events of the letters are actually taking place. The show switches between these two time periods throughout the script.

The class of 30 has all been double cast except for two students who will act as their characters in all of the six performances.

Delaney Sears, acting as young Sala in three of the six shows said the class even had the opportunity to Skype call Garncarz’s daughter, Anne Kirschner, asking her questions about the story to gain insight into the historical context of the play.

“Sala is still alive, so that’s just really cool to me that I am playing somebody who is living right now, as I am playing her,” Sears said.

“We just asked [Kirschner] questions, and she thanked us for putting on this show.”

Apart from learning to speak their lines in Polish accents and blocking the final scenes, one of the cast’s main priorities in the final weeks has been making the show as authentic as possible.

“There’s going to be Nazi guards cursing in German and German people down and beating them off stage and all kinds of stuff, so it’s very intense,” theater teacher Mr. Glen Ellington said. “We want that audience to really have that feeling that they’re in the camp and the oppression.”

Sears also cites this as the cast’s biggest obstacle.

“Most people have their lines down, so right now it’s all about getting the emotion,” Sears said.

The cast hopes that audiences will be able to connect with the story and fully comprehend the historical significance of Garncarz’s story.

“I hope that the audience will be awed at not only our performance, but the story itself, and that they will understand the courage of this person that we are celebrating the story of,” said Alex Clevenger, playing the role of shoemaker Chaim Kaufman.

The series of six performances begins on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., then continues on Monday and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 and 100 seats will be available to the public for each show.