published 2000 and reprinted 2009.
Theresa Steiner was a Viennese Jew who sought refuge in Britain in 1938. By a trick of fate she ended up on Guernsey where, in 1942, she was betrayed to the Gestapo by the British island authorities. This play explores the hidden history of British collaboration with the Nazis on the Channel Islands. The play premiered at the Gulbenkian Theatre Newcastle, March 1990 and toured widely over 15 years. Read an extract >
November 8 – November 15 1990
Truly experimental and truly European, Theresa plays with form on every level, fusing dance with theatre, music with text and juggling fragments of French, German and Polish within a predominantly English script. The effect is always arresting but also serves to make larger points about ‘foreignness’ and ‘belonging’ whether it is experienced by a stateless Viennese refugee or a frustrated upper class Englishwoman emotionally out of sympathy with the interests of her class. As Theresa says, envisaging a future Nazi Europe; ‘there will be no room for our quirky differences.’
22 May 1990
A terse and absorbing production which, with its narrative restricted to a single life story, gives a shocking and utterly convincing account of the collective fate of Europe’s Jews in the lead-up to World War Two. Pascal intersperses a multilingual script – English, German, French and Polish – with nursery rhymes and beautifully economic sequences of movement.
3 November 1990
Told in a series of shortish scenes. Sometimes with German, French and Polish overlapping the English – a dislocating technique that has rarely seemed so effective – Pascal’s play is a tense and stirring piece of theatre, acted with fierce intensity by an international cast.
‘For a Nazi, a Jew is a dead man on holiday’ – Primo Levi.
A Dead Woman on Holiday occurs not in a concentration camp but during the Nuremberg Trials after the War. Sophia Goldenberg, a French Jew, is working as a translator during the Trials when she and a Catholic American soldier meet and fall in love. But she has an English husband, and he an American wife and children.
Addressing issues such as adultery, guilt and survival, it contrasts a conventional marriage and domesticity against free love.
The play premiered at Holborn Arts Centre in 1991.
The Financial Times.
November 1 1990
A Dead Woman on Holiday is so organised in time and space that it acquires the kind of austere beauty and rhetorical tension we associate with the tragedies of Racine.
A British woman goes to Germany today and finds it full of wandering souls or dybbuks.
She imagines a ghetto in 1942 where five Jews are assembled for deportation. One of them remembers the story of The Dybbuk . She makes the others re-enact fragments of this famous legend. This work poses the question about why we keep on telling our stories even on the eve of destruction.
The play premiered at the New End Theatre in 1992. It toured in the UK and in continental Europe over a decade and is touring to the Theater for the New City in August 2010 for its professional US premiere.
July 9, 1992
Julia Pascal has transformed Hasidic myth into an urgent play for today — a timeless drama that reaches back into the rituals of the past and looks forward into the ashes of the 20th century. Pascal’s simple, cleverly designed and movingly acted production throws naturalism and expressionism, dance, music and dialogue into the melting pot and comes up with something distinctly and refreshingly un-British. Purists will no doubt argue that Anski’s original has been subsumed, but this is genuinely creative work which boasts a final sequence that is as spine-tingling as anything you’ll see in the theatre this year.
The Sunday Times
June 28, 1992
it has a raw and unforced reality that is grief-stricken as well as proud. To be possessed by those you have lost, Pascal is saying, is a demonic experience in the Greek sense; terrible but also joyful. The ending tries the impossible: to choreograph the Holocaust to the sounds of Mozart’s Lachrymose. But, by then in any case, Pascal has made her point — that to survive is to be haunted. One of the cast is German, as if to prove that myth, like history, makes no exceptions.
The Stage and Television Today
October 27, 1994
Pascal further tugs at our heartstrings with the harrowing climax of the selection process of one to the right, and one to the left, spelling death for the weakest — all done with a crescendo of vibrant music and loud volley shots.
The talent of the cast, in their multifarious roles has to be recognized in this brilliant presentation.
Michael Grosvenor Myer.
Plays & Players. November 1994
Pascal’s techniques of versatile props and set and intense physicality combine to provide a near-unbearable atmosphere of tension and suffering and some truly amazing effects. The ballet of the dead man’s spirit entering and dominating the young girl is one of the most remarkable pieces of theatre I have ever seen.
The Jewish Chronicle
June 25 1992
A powerful piece of Holocaust Drama. Pascal directs her super cast in a work which takes on mythic dimensions.
…. A viscerally potent drama of love, grief and death ending in an unforgettable danse macabre.
Published by Oberon Books