She is alone.
performance lecture with participation
Presented as a bridge between two stories:
She is alone is a new chapter from Ruins of Achelach -- a body of research, performance, and artifact, creating a growing, living document of lost female ancestors.
A chance trip that took me near the Czech border of Poland sparked a vivid déjà vu related to my grandmother. From that moment, an invisible hand has led me on a path of genealogical inquiry, back and forth across the ocean, memory, time, and the internet, mining rational and irrational sources to investigate the limits of what can be found in spaces left unavailable to us. My latest, most stirring discovery—the Holocaust survival testimony of a cousin who intrepidly navigated World War II Poland at the age I am now. No other record of this woman appears to exist beyond this transcript, recorded in Krakow at the end of the war. The introductory notation written by a third party in the upper-margin begins, “She is alone…”
I had been looking for something else when this woman’s story found me, powerfully demonstrating that history does not rest and the past continues to uproot itself. There is an urgency to share and learn from her account, yet much remains illegible and omitted through layers of translation, as it is passed from one interpreter to the next.
Who was this woman?
In an attempt to find ways to continually reveal new content within, multiple translations of the story are compiled and broken down into small chapters, delivered to audience members to read individually, collectively, and to then respond to and ask questions.
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She is alone was first presented by NUTUREart, Brooklyn, April 30, 2017. A version has since presented in Krakow, Poland in May, 2017 at Festivalt's Dietla 39, and in Prague, Czech Republic in May 2018 at the Foundation and Center for Contemporary Art.
She is alone is possible thanks to the Jewish Historical Institute (Warsaw), Asylum Arts + POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews (Warsaw), NURTUREart, Patrycja Dołowy, Bartek Remisko, Elisabeth Smolarz, and Michelle Levy’s grandma, Rae.
A theatrical presentation of Ruins of Achelach (the precursor to this work) was developed with and directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde, presented by Dixon Place in October 2016, and by Theaterlab in January 2017 (New York City). An earlier iteration, Before Poland (Achelachl) was included in Theaterlab’s Solo Sunday Festival in August 2016.