With war raging in the Middle East, heartwrenching violence in Seattle, WA and anti-Semitism center stage in Hollywood, on September 15, Readers Theatre Repertory opens its sixth season with Address Unknown, from a novel by Portlander Katherine Kressman Taylor starring Tobias Andersen and Michael Mendelson, and directed by Mary McDonald-Lewis.
Written in 1938 and warning of the gathering storm clouds of Fascism in Germany, the story, adapted for the stage by Frank Dunlop, is as timely now as it was then. “Even as we prepared to stage this, horrific conflict broke out between Lebanon and Israel,” says director McDonald-Lewis, “and here in the States, a noted Hollywood actor and director is found out for his shockingly anti-Semitic statements. The recent attack on a Jewish center in Seattle makes this play all the more pertinent.”
All of this supports what Dunlop said when adapting the novel for the stage: “This play is not just about a Jew and German, it is about what is happening now. I didn’t want to do just a memorial to the Holocaust, although I have a good friend who survived Auschwitz. This book and now this play show what people are capable of now.”
McDonald-Lewis adds, “There are no easy answers to why Fascism rose, and to today’s conflicts either. ‘Address Unknown’ doesn’t give us villains and heroes, but challenges us, and demands that we decide how we shall live.”
Dunlop also mounted a successful production of Address Unknown on the East Coast, and will be consulting with McDonald-Lewis on RTR’s season opener.
This production of Address Unknown is a precursor to two additional productions of the play, produced by RTR: a second staged reading with Andersen and Mendelson at Mt. Hood Repertory Theatre in the Fall, and a fully-mounted production in conjunction with the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center in the Spring.