September 18, 2023
September 18, 2023

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‘Whistle: My Mother Was Mengele’s Secretary’

In the realm of theater that delves into the horrors of the Holocaust, “Whistle: My Mother Was Mengele’s Secretary” emerges as a poignant and powerful one-woman show that etches itself into the soul of its audience. A masterful exploration of history’s darkest chapter, this production artfully combines the past and the present, allowing the audience to witness the profound echoes of suffering and resilience that reverberate through generations.

At the heart of this compelling drama is the extraordinary Israeli actress and writer Hadar Galron, who commands the stage, enveloping the audience in a visceral, stirring experience. She skillfully depicts the torn characters of the play: a second-generation Holocaust survivor, her husband and her survivor parents, particularly her mother. The portrayal is nothing short of mesmerizing; her performance transcends the boundaries of the stage, as she breathes life into characters that history has often rendered as statistics.

The play’s emotional depth is underscored by its ability to provoke thought on a multitude of levels. The show is mostly an accurate reflection on the childhood of the playwright, Jacob Buchan, whose mother was the secretary of the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele “As a child I was never hugged or kissed; I think my parents did not even see me. I wrote this story to stop being an invisible child,” he confessed. Buchan is a prolific Israeli author, but often felt that his works were not capturing the attention of the public. He felt transparent, unseen. When asked why he chose the medium of the theater, he quickly replied, “People don’t read as much as they watch.”

Galron, who was born into an Orthodox Jewish family in London, worked with Buchan for a year to help take his writing and adapt it to the theater. Her own personal story has allowed her to create a work that forces us to confront not only the historical atrocities themselves, but also the intricate legacy they’ve left behind. The use of a husband and deceased parents as dialogue partners adds a hauntingly intimate layer, enhancing the complexity of the survivor’s identity and the lingering trauma that continues to the next generation.

Several years ago, Galron lost her sister. The grief allowed Galron to “see that when you go through something of this magnitude, and you come out on the other side, you are OK. This enabled me to touch such raw pain.” In addition, she had interviewed dozens of Holocaust survivors and picked up many pieces of their stories and emotional journeys, which she carries into her performance.

This production challenges the audience; it transforms. And it leaves an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to witness it. Director Hana Vazana-Grunwald deftly navigates the delicate balance between honoring the pain of the past and heralding the strength of the human spirit. With the weight of history hanging in the air, this one-woman show not only pays homage to the Holocaust’s victims but also urges us to contemplate our responsibility in preserving the past while forging a more compassionate future. In a world often plagued by division and indifference, “Whistle” serves as a powerful reminder of our shared humanity and the importance of remembering the lessons of history.

Tickets are on sale now for the New York City shows beginning November 18, 2023 as part of the United Solo Festival, performed on Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036.

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Arnie Draiman is a philanthropic consultant helping people and foundations give their tzedaka money away wisely, efficiently and effectively. He is also an experienced social media and website guru, and enjoys reviewing restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions. He can be reached at [email protected] or

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