This afternoon I spoke with Joanna Caplan. She is an actress who has been working for a couple of years on a one woman show entitled “Total Verrückt.” The title means “Totally Crazy” and is lifted from one of the cabaret shows at Westerbork.
Camp Westerbork was the nazi transit camp in northern Holland where my mother was interned for about eight months when she was eight years old. The camp was a holding place for Jews that were rounded up throughout Holland until they were sent east to the death camps. Westerbork happened to hold many of the top singers, actors, directors, and musicians that were either Dutch or had fled from Germany to the Netherlands. They were able to put together several shows there at the camp which the Commandant enjoyed and supported. The performers were often able to stay longer at Westerbork and avoid deportation if the shows were a success. They were literally singing for their lives. Most however did not survive the war.
Joanna, as a Jewish actress, feels a connection to these unfortunate souls. Her show portrays the fear, sadness and anxiety that the situation created for the Westerbork Cabaret. She is opening at the Charlestown Working Theater on May 24th. I’m hoping to be able to make the show.