A great part of Rollins’ legacy is the post-graduation life of its alumni. For example, Beth Lincks ’75, who after graduating became a famous playwright under the pen name Arlene Hutton. One of Lincks’ recent plays, Letters to Sala, opened Friday, Feb. 11 at Rollins’ Annie Russell Theatre. Sala is based on the true story of a young Polish Jew named Sala Garncarz, who saved every letter she received during her five years in Nazi labor camps. Lincks wrote the play after she read Sala’s Gift.
The story, which was told predominantly through Sala’s letters, was wellwritten. Historical pieces have a tendency to be a hit or miss; they are usually either well told and interesting or tedious and long. Thankfully, Letters to Sala was a captivating story. There were times when I had to remind myself that Sala and all of the other characters were real people and that the horrors they faced actually happened.
Alexa Gordon ’13, (Young Sala), had never before performed at the Annie. She said it was a challenge to portray a real person on stage as opposed to a fictional character from a script. “It was intimidating at first to know that this is a real story,” she said. Shannon Singley ’11, who paralleled Gordon playing the older Sala in the story, was also intimidated by the magnitude of the role. “I’ve never played someone who actually existed before.” She added that in order to play the role realistically, she did not watch Gordon’s scenes during rehearsals so that when she was doing the actual performances, everything would be a surprise to her.
At times, the story was a little confusing. For most of the play, Singley’s Sala would be wandering around the stage, observing Gordon’s Sala as her story unraveled. There were so many elements and layers to the historical facts that it would get difficult to keep track of what was happening. However, seeing older Sala’s reaction to her daughter Ann and her granddaughters learning about her past had a beautiful vulnerability to it.
Overall, the show was well acted and realistic. It was clear to the audience the amount of time and effort the cast and crew put into giving this significant time in history justice. Brian Hatch ’12, who played one of Sala’s love interests, said that one unique aspect of the show was the fact that it was based on a true story and that they met the playwright before they began working:“This experience has been unlike any other experience I’ve had at Rollins.” He added that everyone in the cast had a great respect for the writer from knowing her and understanding the story behind making the script. Kirschner and Lincks were at the show Feb. 12, watching their hard work come to life. Both seemed to be pleased with the final production.
“It was thrilling,” smiled Lincks. “I couldn’t have asked for a more dedicated cast.”
Letters to Sala will run through Feb. 19 at the Annie Russell Theatre.