(Performing Arts (Dance, Music, Theatre, ...))
Synopsis: REMNANTS is a minimalist piece that includes the voices of 3 men and 4 women, currently presented as a one-man performance by the author. The play reflects what is now almost forty years of conversation between the playwright and a small group of Holocaust survivors. REMNANTS is not testimony but rather recreates conversational moments in which survivors struck on an image or anecdote that "nailed" what they were attempting to convey, not only about the destruction but also about living after. The action is in the retelling itself: survivors' finding such images, their strategic deployment, and the particular relationship that each survivor works to establish with the audience. The recreation and selection of these moments depended on the author's decades of writing and teaching about the Holocaust as scholar as well as playwright.
Henry Greenspan is a psychologist and playwright at the University of Michigan who has been interviewing, teaching, and writing about Holocaust survivors since the 1970s. Rather than one-time "testimonies," Greenspan's approach has been to meet with survivors in sustained conversation: over months, years, and, in a few cases, decades. That approach is reflected in his On Listening to Holocaust Survivors: Beyond Testimony, now in its second and expanded edition, and Reflections: Auschwitz, Memory, and a Life Recreated, co-authored with Agi Rubin, a survivor with whom Greenspan had collaborated since 1980. He is the author of numerous articles on survivors' retelling, including the chapter on survivors' accounts for the Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies. In 2011, he co-led the annual Hess Seminar for Professors of Holocaust Courses at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. In 2012, he was the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University in Montreal. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild.
Response to REMNANTS
"I read a lot of plays. I don't know another one like REMNANTS. It is exactly what it should be. It is exactly right."
Ellen Schiff, editor, Classic Plays from the American Jewish Repertoire
"There are no elaborate sets, no orchestral movements to stir the soul. But to those who watch it, REMNANTS is as memorable and moving as other major Holocaust works....The work is renowned."
The Detroit Jewish News
"An incredibly moving work, stark and haunting-an example of Public Radio at its best."
Michigan Public Broadcasting
"Each monologue encompasses the Holocaust's unspeakable, inexplicable horror within what amounts, in most instances, to a simple anecdote....Anything more would be redundant."
The Philadelphia Inquirer
"This is Holocaust theatre at its best-a work that carries authenticity in every one of its taut, spare words.
Alvin Rosenfeld, Chair, Academic Committee, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
"Of the countless attempts to represent the Holocaust, REMNANTS stands out as a uniquely succinct and piercing glimpse into the immeasurable horror of genocide. This play has more to tell us than many learned volumes."
Omer Bartov, Birkelund Distinguished Professor of History, Brown University
"An understated, concentrated, starkly dramatic play. REMNANTS avoids the dogmatic and the sentimental and leaves interpretation up to the cast and response up to the audience."
Lawrence Langer, Professor Emeritus, Simmons College
"REMNANTS succeeds in ways I had thought out of the reach of any kind of dramatization, and it does so with great integrity as well as passion."
Michael Andre Bernstein, Professor of Comparative Literature, U. of California, Berkeley
"REMNANTS combines history and scholarship, art and drama, to inform our understanding of the Holocaust in ways that are as moving and poignant as they are challenging and surprising. Penetrating, gripping, masterful--those are only a few of the words that this distinctive work deserves."
John K. Roth, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Claremont McKenna College