June 11, 2004

CHICAGO VOICES: An excerpt from "Waltzing in the Garden of Forgiveness," by Susan Strong-Dowd

LIESEL: It was in this way we came to America. Our first home was a tenement in New York City.
ROSE: And our first friends were the janitor, his wife and --
LIESEL: daughter, Sylvia. She took me to the movies. That was how I learned English. I tagged along behind her everywhere. We went down to the big hotels where the stars stayed and got their autographs. Look Mommy, look, Edward G. Robinson.
AARON: Good people. They were good people.
ROSE: But then my sister, Regina, sent word. There was more work with family in Chicago.
AARON: Family is important.
LIESEL: Family is to be honored and cherished. I didn't want to leave my new friend, Sylvia. I was just beginning to feel this was home. I hid my feelings from Mommy and Daddy as best I could, and we began to pack.
ROSE: We didn't know it yet, but Aaron's nine siblings and their children would perish in concentration camps.
LIESEL: And my Auntie Ann and Uncle Poldi and their three daughters, including my cousin Friedkin, who everyone said could have been my twin, would all perish.
AARON: The only ones to survive would be Rose, her two sisters, Regina and Molly, and their families. So we moved again.
(Again, each of them has a suitcase to carry.)
AARON: Chicago.
ROSE: Chicago.
LIESEL: Chicago.
ALL THREE: Chicago.

Susan Strong-Dowd, trained in Stanislavski and Story Theater, worked for many years with Fritzie Sahlins. "Waltzing in the Garden of Forgiveness" appears in the Polyphony Press anthology titled, "The Thing About Love Is..." Susan says she "believes in ensemble theater companies and the healing power of story."


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