EXCERTPS FROM THE ARTICLE
Below are excperts from the May 2, 2018 Jewish Times feature on The Book of Joseph, written by Susan C. Ingram.
The open briefcase and scattered letters that sketch a haunting face on the playbill for Everyman Theatre’s production of “The Book of Joseph” are more than clever graphic details.
The real briefcase and letters have revealed many stories — personal, historic, tragic and triumphant — since being discovered in an attic by Baltimorean Richard S. Hollander. Family stories, past and present, are at the root of the play, based on family letters from Krakow during World War II and drawn from Hollander’s 2007 book, “Every Day Lasts a Year.”
The Baltimore Players
Danny Gavigan, of Philadelphia, plays Joseph, and at 34 is the same age that Joseph is in the play. Although Gavigan is not Jewish, he said the play is universal in its appeal.
“You really start to see it’s a story about the circumstances in their life that have brought them closer than ever. And yes, out of care and love for each other do we spare each other and build these walls around what’s really painful,” Gavigan said. “You see this family start to experience real visceral pain in their circumstances in life, but through the letters, no matter how restrained and censored they are, you start to see it’s a story of them growing closer than they’ve ever been.”
“I found when we were rehearsing it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the poetry, the circumstances and the hindsight of the situation and let it weigh on you,” he added. “But the more we connect with each other as a family, you really see that it’s coming from a family that just misses their brother, their son, their uncle, who’s trapped in immigration court for many years, trying to find a home that isn’t Poland, while his family is trapped in Poland.”
Baltimore actress Bari Hochwald plays multiple women in the play, including Mania, Joseph’s eldest sister.
From reflecting on personal family questions and losses, Hochwald said the play then pushes out, asking the audience to consider the world.
“And you move beyond your family to the family of man and the state of our precious globe. I think this is because there are no answers in this play, there are just endless questions, drops of information, space, silences and more questions,” she said. “And that is so much of life — what we don’t know about our history, ourselves, each other.”