How would you react if someone proposed to build a new amusement park with the theme of a concentration camp?
The reaction to such a controversial event is exactly what plays out in the new comedy written by Adam Melnick and Joshua Tarjan, titled Camp Holocaust. The play ends its run Oct. 28 at the Present Company's Theatorium on the lower East Side of Manhattan. The production opened Oct. 6.
The story of Camp Holocaust follows two children of Holocaust survivors who decide to build a concentration camp in Poland to act as a therapeutic adventure site for visitors to confront, experience and come to terms with the horrifying past. When the pressure by the media and by the overwhelming number of visitors get to be too much, the two founders find a strain is put on their friendship and their perception of reality.
Co-writers Melnick and Tarjan, who also directs, both know what it is like to grow up as children of Holocaust survivors. When asked about the severity of writing a comedy about such a controversial issue, Tarjan told Playbill On-Line, "the emphasis of the play is on the children of Holocaust survivors. We have our issues trying to deal with this event [which occurred 30 years prior to their birth], that affects who we are, it's part of our identity." He added, "there's a lot of reverence around the Holocaust, you can't talk about the Holocaust without having a tone in your voice." But he feels there is a definite need to, and he illustrates his point and that of the play best when he says, "I believe that art is a place that we can talk about what we need to talk about."
-- by Ernio Hernandez