I am so excited to share that the passion project I have been working on semi-secretly for 4+ years is having its first public showing!
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
LIFE? OR THEATER?
A life-saving, feminist, part-true autobiography in words, colors, and music
“I became my mother, my grandmother, in fact I was all the characters who take part in my play. I learned to travel all their paths and became all of them.” –Charlotte Salomon, 1942.
A three-performer play with music, for an actor, a dancer, and a cellist, adapted from the graphic novel autobiography of Charlotte Salomon, a young Jewish woman and aspiring painter living in Berlin during the rise of the Nazis. Using her original paintings and text, and adding original music and choreography, Salomon's paintings come to life on stage in an ecstatic manifesto on choosing life and art over destruction, sophisticated, whimsical, smart, funny, and uplifting.
Charlotte Salomon’s work, unknown to the public until the 1960s, was featured at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in 2014, as well as in 2017 at the Jewish Historical Museum of Amsterdam to commemorate the 100th anniversary of her birth, displaying the entire work—over 800 gouaches—for the first time. Salomon and Life? Or Theater? have also been the topic of recent feature articles in the New Yorker and the New York Times.
Life? Or Theater? explores how we create our lives amidst personal trauma and political chaos, and addresses the problematic treatment of women’s health, mental health, and particularly the mishandling of the overlap. “Mach doch kein Theater,” the women of Charlotte Salomon’s world were told—“don’t make a scene, don’t make a big production out of it.” With Life? Or Theater?, the Charlotte of the play—and the Charlotte of the playwright—boldly reject this idea, telling their story, and the stories of several generations of women who have been silenced before, in an unapologetic, consciously theatrical fashion.
Charlotte was born and raised in sunny San Diego, California, where she progressed from reenacting Disney movies in the living room to studying at the La Jolla Playhouse, the Old Globe Theatre, and San Diego Opera.
She moved to the less-sunny Midwest to study theatre at Northwestern University, graduating with a B.A. in theatre and a minor in history (translation: she will totally geek out at the dramaturgy presentation).
Currently she resides in Chicago where she does plays, makes music, and eats vegetables. She has performed at a number of Chicago theatres, including Emerald City, 20% Theatre, the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, FWD Theatre Project, Victory Gardens, Raven, and Piccolo.