When prisoners in Nazi concentration camps cooked traditional meals together, it restored the hope that one day their lives could return to normal. Now, one Sacramento playwright has dramatized that idea, and is inviting audiences to dine with her.
Sarah Acrich’s “Taste of Hope: A Play in Three Courses” was inspired by stories from family and friends about the role food played during the Holocaust. The multi-sensory piece, staged Thursday, July 14 and Saturday, July 16 at the Warehouse Artists Lofts in midtown, features seven women and three distinct time periods. In the play, women share and discuss recipes in their homes before the war, in the concentration camps, and in the modern kitchens of their children.
To bring audiences deeper into the play, Sarah and her husband Gabe prepare and serve three traditional Jewish dishes. Potato latkes mark the first act or “course” of the play, which revolves around Hanukkah. The main course is matzo ball soup, a dish associated with the Jewish holiday Passover. Following the last act, and a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Holocaust, the cast hands out honey cake and caramels wrapped in pink tissue paper.
“Women shared recipes in the dark of the night in the camps, and I thought that was so interesting,” Sarah Acrich said. “(Food) gave them hope. They were looking back with fondness, and looking forward like, ‘Maybe we’ll survive this.’ They would often plan meals they would eat together after they were out of the camp.”
Sarah said similar conversations are being had in refugee camps in places such as Greece, where Syrian refugees are using whatever resources they can find to fix meals that remind them of home.
To serve about 100 audience members for each show, Sarah, Gabe and two or three other helpers cook the food before the play. The cast of 12 actors consists mostly of Sarah’s friends and family.
When they are not working on theatrical productions, Sarah and Gabe, who live in the Warehouse Artist Lofts, create other pieces of art. A former florist, Sarah has turned her attention to fiber art and painting, while her husband makes stained glass pieces.
All proceeds from “Taste of Hope: A Play in Three Courses” go to “O Allos Anthropos” (The Other Man), a community kitchen feeding refugees in Athens, Greece. Tickets can be purchased by making a $42 donation at www.gofundme.com/tasteofhope.
‘A Taste of Hope: A Play in Three Courses’
When: 8-10 p.m. July 14 and July 16
Where: Courtyard of Warehouse Artist Lofts, 1108 R St., Sacramento