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Falmouth Jewish Congregation welcomes everyone from the community to a service and theatrical program for Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Wednesday, May 1. The evening will begin at 7:00 P.M. with the service, followed by a one-woman staged reading of The Strawberry Girl, performed by Elliot Norton Award Winner Nancy E. Carroll.

The play, by contemporary Israeli playwright Savyon Liebrecht, is directed by Guy Ben-Aharon and produced by the dynamic, young Boston-based company Israeli Stage, founded by Mr. Ben-Aharon.

The Strawberry Girl, based on a short story that author Liebrecht adapted for the stage, is set in Poland during the Holocaust, In many stories set related to the Holocaust, we hear about the heroes who saved people, the despair and destruction, the horrific acts committed, the indignity, the fear. The Strawberry Girl jolts us out of these usual plot lines, and invites us instead to contemplate the experiences of the wives of Nazi leaders.

The play examines the faint lines that divided perpetrators from the knowingly complicit, the knowingly complicit from the willfully ignorant. The audience is at once asked to empathize with these wives, while being tempted to berate them for standing idly by and profiting from objects stolen (and grown) in the death camps. Given that the play promotes questions (Is this a true story? Is it possible that a woman could be so naive? Was she naive? What inspired the writer to depict a forlorn girl offering strawberries; what is the symbolism of that fruit?), it is an ideal choice for Israeli Stage, which pairs its production with a Q & A and discussion following.

Actress Nancy E. Carroll is well known in the Boston theater world, performing regularly at the Huntington Theater and at the Lyric State Company and numerous regional theaters. She appeared on Broadway in Present Laughter (Roundabout Theatre Company); in Our Town and She Loves Me  (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Rapture, Blister, Burn (Geffen Playhouse); and The Cripple of Inishmaan (Druid Theatre Company, Galway). Her film and television credits include Spotlight, Irrational Man, and “Olive Kitteridge.” She is an Elliot Norton Award winner for Present Laughter, Brendan, and Bailegangaire.

Israeli Stage’s mission is to share the diversity and vitality of Israeli culture through its literature and theatre. Since its inaugural Season in 2010-11, Israeli Stage has engaged over 50 programmatic partners (academic, cultural and religious), presenting over 25 premieres of Israeli plays, and hosting 5 Israeli resident playwrights and being profiled in American Theatre Magazine, Ha’aretz, Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, The Improper Bostonian, The Jewish Advocate, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, The Washington Post, WBUR, WGBH – New England’s PBS TV Channel and countless other outlets for the unique work building cultural bridges between the United States and Israel.

Along the way, Israeli Stage’s founder, Ben-Aharon, has been recognized with awards in the theater world and in Jewish circles, including being named as one of the top 18 influential young adults in Boston by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. Most Americans know of Israel only through headlines of the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ben-Aharon observes. “We’re not here to defend Israel. We’re here to portray work by Israeli artists,” he asserts. “The conversation [on the conflict] is so polarized. We put on plays to get people to think about Israel in a different way. Israel is a society that is complex, not black and white,” he says. Visit www.israelistage.com to watch a video and learn more about this innovative theater group.

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