Play about Holocaust survivor & daughter returns to Dayton

It was the summer of 1997 when Dayton Playhouse’s Futurefest presented Faye Sholiton’s new play, The Interview, about a Holocaust survivor and her estranged daughter.

Since then, The Interview has had more than three dozen readings and staged productions across the United States.

Sholiton — a prolific playwright and founding artistic director of Cleveland’s Interplay Jewish Theatre — credits The Interview’s success to the opportunity Futurefest gave her to bring it to an early life and shape it in Dayton.

From Feb. 29 through March 8, The Interview returns to Dayton, at Actor’s Theatre Fairborn, directed by longtime Futurefest stalwart Brian Sharp.

“It’s such a safe space to bring a new work into the world,” Sholiton says of her Futurefest experiences. “I called it a playwright’s fantasy camp.”

Playwright Faye Sholiton

Over the years, she has returned to Futurefest as an adjudicator and to watch other playwrights in action.

She says the impetus for The Interview came from interviewing Holocaust survivors and their children for the Cleveland Jewish News, and her work for Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, now the USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education.

“The play is full of moments that people shared with me when I was a journalist,” Sholiton says. “My reporter’s notes really gave me so much. I saved all these interviews that I have done with survivors and their children. I had years of those interviews to look back on and see those moments that were so powerful and so revealing, and so simply stated. I learned from the interviews to suspend judgment. As one survivor said on a taped testimony that I saw, ‘If you licked my heart, it would poison you.’”

Two Holocaust survivors she interviewed had estranged children.

“It certainly was not the rule; it was the exception,” Sholiton says. “I stumbled on what happens in any home where there’s something you can’t talk about. And that is the crux of it: that when you can’t really talk about something, you can’t really talk about anything.”

Director Brian Sharp says it’s the right time to stage The Interview because people aren’t really talking these days.

“We shut people out or don’t allow open lines of communication for many reasons,” he says. “This is the kind of theatre that makes you think. I also think we don’t talk about the atrocities of the Holocaust enough. And having just passed the 75th anniversary (of the liberation of Auschwitz), I think it’s timely as well.”

— Marshall Weiss

Actor’s Theatre Fairborn presents The Interview, Feb. 29-March 8. Tickets are $12.50-$15 and are available at The theatre is located at 23 E. Fairborn St., Fairborn.

To read the complete March 2020 Dayton Jewish Observer, click here.

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