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The Soap Myth

“5 kilos of human fat are mixed with 10 liters of water and 500 or 1,000 grams of caustic soda. All this is boiled 2 or 3 hours and then cooled. The soap floats to the surface while the water and other sediment remain at the bottom. A bit of salt and soda is added to this mixture. Then fresh water is added and the mixture again boiled 2 or 3 hours. After having cooled, the soap is poured into molds.”

After browsing around on “Digital Theatre” for a while watching the trailer for all the new works that were being released to watch, I chose The Soap Myth written by Jeff Cohen. The play revolves are two central characters, one who is a Holocaust survivor who wants an important story to be told, one that he holds to be so significant within the events of the Holocaust and a young female reporter trying to find the truth about the stories.

The simple setting and costumes within the set, along with the natural feel of lighting, you really focus all of your attention on the story being told and the emotion that each character carries throughout, whether it is sympathetic or unforgiving.

The writing of the story is beautiful. The testimonies told are felt with such heart and importance, this man has this stories of the camps and the horrors that occurred, and he just wants the world to understand what they went through and what was happening to them.

To me, everything about this show was incredibly moving. For a long time all I knew about the Holocaust was what I had learned while sitting in a classroom. A while ago, I was introduced to my father’s friend, who was the son of a Holocaust survivor and wrote a novel on his survival in the camps and the loss of his family. He then went on to become a judge on the International Court of Justice. He worked his whole life to help other people who were facing injustice.

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This character in the show, at age 14, saw a coffin on soap go by in the streets. The carcasses of those who died in the concentration camps had made into the soap. He looks for an advocate to help him make his story known.

The show to me is so raw. I hate to use the word raw, but it’s a story that is so new, and unique and it catches you from the first moment when a testimony is being told by the reporter of her first encounter with the survivor and his story.

Along with the incredible and moving playwriting, the acting is ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. The four actors took on a major task of capturing the audience throughout the life long journey of Milton Saltzman and his struggles. Andi Potamkin was a strong standing female role that had her own individual voice and her own continual search for answers and justice. Through the jokes, testimonials, arguments, and heart breaking recounts, I wanted to hear more, know more.

At the end of the play, Milton finally sits down and speaks about how he sees those days he lived through. He talks about the open emotional wounds of those surrounding him every single day, the sound of hysterics that flooded the camps. How people looked forward to the end. He questions God’s mercy and if these acts were God’s cruelty. This ending was so strong and impactful. This piece of theatre was incredible, moving, impactful, meaningful. Everything that theatre should be. A piece that everyone should watch.

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4 comments on “The Soap Myth

  1. Hi-

    I am the writer of The Soap Myth and I came across this blog entry. It is very meaningful to me to see the reach of Digital Theatre in helping to disseminate my play to such varied and appreciative audiences. Thanks so much for your words and for posting them.

    Jeff Cohen

    • Jeff, You are more than welcome. I am so happy that I came across your piece on Digital Theatre, it was a beautiful play to be able to watch.

      Gina Cercone

      • Are you a playwrighting student? A dramaturgy student? It’s a brave new world when a play can be filmed and streamed world wide. My hope is that the film doesn’t replace live productions, but whets viewers’ appetite for more live productions. Again, thank you for your kind words.

  2. I am actually a Costume Design student at Boston University who is taking Ilana Brownstein’s Contemporary Dramatic Literature class. It is heavily based on Dramaturgy and was a great way for me to dive deeper into understanding the new work being released into the world today. Along with watching new works here in Boston, I also decided to watch one online to write about for the blog and stumbled upon your piece! I will never stop going to the theatre (it’s not even an option) but it’s wonderful to know that there are also other ways theatre can be accessible to those not able to attend certain performances.

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