GREENBELT – A story of redemption and forgiveness starts Friday evening at the Greenbelt Arts Center. Eugenio, a play written by 75-year-old Anthony Gallo, is a historically-based play which tells the story of a rabbi who loses his faith after his family is killed by Nazis in Rome, Italy during the Holocaust in World War […]
GREENBELT – A story of redemption and forgiveness starts Friday evening at the Greenbelt Arts Center.
Eugenio, a play written by 75-year-old Anthony Gallo, is a historically-based play which tells the story of a rabbi who loses his faith after his family is killed by Nazis in Rome, Italy during the Holocaust in World War II. He flees to the Vatican and rediscovers his faith after converting to Roman Catholicism.
“The play is how human beings must forgive one another and must forgive themselves,” Gallo said. “The rabbi’s whole family was wiped out by the Nazis and he had to learn to forgive them. Several of the other characters have had instances in their lives where they’ve had to forgive and forgive other humans—sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.”
David Weaver, who co-directed this play with his wife Shirley, said the play is about forgiveness.
“All of us deal with issues in our lives, deal with people who hurt us and wrong us,” David said. “We need to look at those people and try to understand them and forgive them. But we also need to look at ourselves and be able to forgive ourselves for some of the mistakes and the things that we’ve done in our own lives.”
David and Shirley performed double-duty in directing the play while also acting.
“Given my preference I suppose it would be better to do one or the other and not both but that often happens in community theatre,” said David. “We don’t have a lot of people available especially male actors so quite often I end up doing multiple jobs when I do these plays.”
David said it has been tough putting the play together with a limited budget.
“We can’t do things ideally because we don’t have the budget or the time or the space so a lot of times you have to make compromises and try to make something work as best you can with the resources you have,” said David.
For example, David had to use makeshift scenery in order to represent the Spanish Steps in Rome.
“So basically what we ended up doing was creating a wall that looked like we were outside and putting a sign that said the Spanish steps are to the left…You make the best use of what you have and you try to convey to the audience where they are and what’s going on as best as you can with the resources you have.”
David’s character, Helmut Schmitt, is a German officer in World War II and a Nazi who realizes after the war is over that his role in persecuting the Jews was wrong and he regrets his actions deeply.
“I don’t think he chose to join the Nazis,” said David. “He’s trying to do the best he can. He’s not directly connected with the fighting and I think as the play goes on, at the end of the war, after everything’s over with I think he really begins to come to grips with what was done and his role in it and regrets his being a part of what happened.”
Gallo said the name for the play comes from three men all named Eugenio: a former chief rabbi of Rome from 1938-1944, a former clergyman and another man who Gallo would not describe because of his role in the play’s plot.
Eugenio is Gallo’s 12th production. While he would like for his play to eventually be played in New York City, he said he is concentrating on Greenbelt right now.
“The play so far has worked magnificently but you never know what it’s going to be like until opening night,” said Gallo. “That’s when the audience comes in, that’s when the play is put to the test when it’s actually being performed.”
People can purchase their tickets for the play by calling the Greenbelt Arts Center. The tickets are $17 for regular admission, $14 for students and seniors and $12 for parties of ten or more people. The play starts at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. The play opens Friday, July 18, and continues until July July 26.
Doors to the Greenbelt Arts Center open at 7 p.m. and the play lasts two hours with a 15-minute intermission.