Museum sponsors opening night viewing of one-man show
By Aaron Greenberg
DALLAS — On April 5, Wiesenthal, the award-winning one-man show about famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, will open at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.
It’s the latest offering in a partnership between the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance and the performing arts center. The museum is sponsoring the four-show run at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, part of the Off Broadway on Flora Street Series, but opening night will be a full event.
“We have exclusive access to the theater and play that night, so it will be a wonderful community experience,” said Mary Pat Higgins, the museum’s CEO.
Opening night festivities include pre-show cocktails for ticket holders and sponsors, and a post-show reception with playwright and star Tom Dugan for sponsors. Single tickets for opening night start at $125 and sponsorships start at $1,000.
“We were looking to do something interesting and relevant to what the museum is about as a fundraising enterprise,” said Mike Richman, executive vice president of revenue for the AT&T center.
“The subject matter, being about the most visible and famous Nazi hunter ever, ties directly into the message and mission of the Dallas Holocaust Museum.”
The one-act show is directed by Jenny Sullivan and runs about 75 minutes. It takes place on the day Wiesenthal retires after nearly 60 years in pursuit of Nazis.
“The concept of the show is that he is with one last group of visitors to his office on the day he is packing away his memorabilia,” Richman said. “It is so poignant, so interesting to see inside the mind of someone who is so single-mindedly motivated to bring these murderers to justice.”
Wiesenthal searched the world for people involved in Nazi war crimes, and tracked down more than 1,000 individuals so that they could be brought to justice. Most famously, he was involved in the capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the main architects of the Holocaust. Wiesenthal retired in 2003, and died in 2005.
“It is a story of seeking justice not just to avenge, really, the tragedy of Jewish lives lost, but so in the future perpetrators would know there would be people who would pursue justice, as a deterrent for future genocides,” Higgins said.
The two organizations teamed up for a fundraiser a few years ago, a chance for the museum to branch out with the arts community. In 2015, a one-woman show by Mona Golabek about her mother’s experience on the Kindertransport was held at the Wyly. Higgins said it was a wonderful experience, and last year the opening night of Cabaret — set when the Nazis were rising to power — was used as a fundraiser for the museum.
“When we found out they had to opportunity to host Wiesenthal, we were very excited,” Higgins said. “We have exclusive access to the theater and play that night, so it will be a wonderful community experience.”
On opening night, cocktails start at 6 p.m. and the show at 7 p.m. Because the theater will be dedicated to the show that night, Higgins sees it as a chance to learn, mingle and support the museum. For the April 6-8 performances, the show begins at 8 p.m. and tickets start at $39. There will be an information booth for the museum at those performances, too.
Dugan, the son of a concentration camp liberator, has performed in numerous plays, movies and television shows. He has written one-man plays about Robert E. Lee and Frederick Douglass as well.
“The play itself has had a long history,” Richman said. “It debuted a few years ago at Playwrights Horizons in New York, a showcase for smaller theatrical works.
“We are constantly scouting shows to bring to the AT&T Performing Arts Center.
“One of our board members saw it previously and recommended we put it on our calendar. I saw it in New York and loved it.”
Similarly, Florence Shapiro, the museum’s board chair, saw the show last year in Richardson. She praised it to fellow board members, and when they heard it might be coming to town, the museum’s leadership reached out to Richman.
It’s seen as an opportunity not only to help the museum with fundraising, but in its mission of broadening knowledge about the Holocaust. Dugan will spend time doing educational outreach while in town, including a full hour on KERA.
There’s also a study guide available online for educators to use.
“It’s a good opportunity to get the message that always emanates from discussion of the Holocaust about tolerance and kindness toward fellow men,” Richman said.
Higgins advises anyone going to the show to visit the museum, whether they are new to studying the Holocaust or not.
“Come to the museum, take two hours and really go through and process and think about it,” Higgins said. “After that experience, there will be things that everyone learns. I have been through this museum with people who have read countless books, and there’s always some new information they glean. For those who haven’t really studied it, they will come away with a very solid, basic understanding. And hopefully they will find what really interested them or compelled them and learn on their own.”
“It just makes sense, if someone comes as a theater fan or is not fully aware of the atrocities of the Holocaust, the museum can help spark further interest and engage with the subject,” Richman said. “That’s a big win for us all.”
In addition to the Holocaust, there’s the broader message the museum focuses on, of tolerance and standing up to bigotry.
“We talk about being an Upstander rather than a bystander, not to turn a blind eye when things are happening to others, and to stand up for yourself,” Higgins said. “Simon Wiesenthal is an amazing example of those who stood up for others, seeking justice after the Holocaust. But he’s also remarkable in that he founded the Wiesenthal Center in 1977, and that center has a mission of Holocaust remembrance, but also fighting bigotry and anti-Semitism, and helping people understand the bigotry and prejudice in contemporary events. That’s our mission as well.”
The theater is at 2400 Flora St., in the downtown arts district. The event’s co-chairs are Jolene Risch, Jen Goldstein and Yana Mintskovsky. For more information on the show, to buy tickets or download the study guide, visit www.attpac.org/on-sale/2017/wiesenthal.