NYC-based play comes to the Midlands and explores the fascinating life of a concentration camp prisoner turned Nazi-hunting hero
Historians mark 1945 as the end of the Holocaust. For Simon Wiesenthal, it was only the beginning of the fight for justice to honor lost family, friends, and countrymen. He was an author, lawyer, and Holocaust survivor – known for choosing action over self-pity and justice over revenge. This month, award-winning playwright and performer Tom Dugan recounts the Nazi hunter’s prolific career in Wiesenthal, the popular touring production, at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College on January 20, 2017 at 7:30 PM and January 21, 2017 at 3:30 PM.
After surviving Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust, Simon Wiesenthal dedicated his life to tracking war criminals and bringing them to justice. Although a civilian, the governments of Israel, Austria, and West Germany cooperated to fund his work through the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna.
The “Wiesenthal” play is set on the day of the famed Nazi hunter’s retirement. While packing up his ﬁles, “The Jewish James Bond” recounts the stories of bringing to trial such infamous Nazi war criminals as Franz Stangl, the Treblinka death camp commandant; Karl Silberbauer, the Schutzstaffel (S.S) oﬃcer who imprisoned Anne Frank; Franz Murer, “The Butcher of Wilna;” and Adolph Eichmann, the infamous “Architect of the Holocaust.” Wiesenthal painstakingly collected documents, records, and the personal accounts of Holocaust survivors. Over years, he pieced together the most obscure and incomplete data to build cases solid enough to stand up in the court of law. When the authorities failed to take action, Wiesenthal would go to the press, because over the course of his career as a “Nazi Hunter,” he discovered that publicity and an outraged public opinion were powerful weapons for success.
From the New York Times: “A scene describing the trial of Adolf Eichmann is particularly powerful. ‘The door opens, and out from the very pit of hell steps — a bookkeeper,’ Wiesenthal says, astonished that such a monster could appear so banal. In another insightful segment, Wiesenthal’s wife pleads with him to abandon their postwar home in Vienna after death threats. And a recollection of a found note written by a Jewish boy is both heartbreaking and beautiful.”
Harbison Theatre Executive Director Katie Fox saw the play in New York nearly two years ago. “Wiesenthal is a remarkably well-staged play that draws attention to the long-term impact of bigotry and indifference and to the ultimate power of the truth,” she says. “We cannot forget the past if we hope to forge a just future. We are honored to share the story of Simon Wiesenthal with the Midlands.”
About Tom Dugan (Simon Wiesenthal/Playwright)
Tom Dugan received the Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Award and three Ovation nominations for his portrayal of Simon Wiesenthal. Mr. Dugan’s Los Angeles and regional theatre credits include Amadeus, Misery, The Man Who Came To Dinner, and On Golden Pond (starring Jack Klugman). His TV and film credits include Friends, Bones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Kindergarten Cop, Dave, The Naked Gun, and his personal favorite, Leprechaun III. He is also an accomplished playwright whose critically acclaimed one-man plays Oscar to Oscar, Robert E. Lee – Shades of Gray, The Ghosts of Mary Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass – In The Shadow of Slavery (starring Broadway’s Mel Johnson Jr.) have been produced in almost 40 cities across the United States and Canada.