"Better Don't Talk!"
by Naava Piatka
Our last function on Sunday 1st of March was a sold out performance by actress, and playwright Naava Piatka, following two shows in Sydney and several shows in her home town - Cape Town.
Naava wrote her one-woman show, "Better Don't Talk!" in which she brought to life her remarkable mother, Chayela Rosenthal "the wunderkind of the Vilna Ghetto Theatre".
Naava recounted her own experiences as the daughter of Holocaust survivors and reconstructed her mother's past which was shrouded in secrecy until her death in South Africa eighteen years ago. Her mother and late Uncle Leyb were leaders of the renowned Vilna Ghetto Theatre; her mother acting and singing and telling jokes, and her uncle writing songs and plays.
Naava's only Melbourne show was staged as a collaborative effort between Jewish Community Services and Descendants of the Shoah Inc. All proceeds went to the JCS Holocaust Survivor Project.
"Better Don't Talk!" wove personal narrative with dramatic testimony, and original ghetto songs with Naava's own compositions. Naava elegantly moved from telling a daughter's story to taking on her mother's persona during the play. She changed roles and accents easily and naturally. It felt as if both of characters were on stage at the same time. This was supported by suble lighting changes and beautiful accompaniment on the piano from Tomi Kalinski.
Avram Zeleznikow, a member of the JCS Committee of Management, was asked to chair a discussion with the audience after the show. He gave a moving speech recollecting his memories of Chayela Rosenthal and her Chayela's efforts to lift the spirits of ghetto inhabitants.
Naava said that her writing took quite a few years to evolve - explaining her journey to be similar to an archaeological dig as she learned about parts of her mother's life she knew nothing about. Naava also expressed a great desire to come back to Australia, where she felt very much at home and was delighted with the warm reception she received here.
Descendants of the Shoah, Inc and JCS would like to thank Expo Print, Raine and Horne Feldman Real Estate and Desktop Publishing and Design for their generous support.