‘Tell the Story Every Way You Can’: Bess Wohl on ‘Camp Siegfried’

“I used to be like, this will’t have occurred proper in my yard,” she stated. “It actually appeared like a mistake at first, that these photos had been photos of America.”

This was an anxious summer time, with each the coronavirus and President Trump’s re-election marketing campaign raging. Wohl discovered herself driving, alone, by way of the non-public roads of what had as soon as been the camp and the close by bungalow group, with streets named for Hitler, Goebbels, Goering. (These names have lengthy been modified, however a restrictive housing covenant, which allowed solely patrons who may show German ancestry, stood till 2017.) On these drives, she was searching for proof of what this place had been and the way its previous had been.

On that Sunday in October, we took an identical drive, previous Bach Court docket and Schiller Court docket, previous indicators that introduced the group as non-public and the roads as having no outlet. There have been no swastikas anymore. American flags and Trump flags had changed the Nazi ones. A handful of buildings and bungalows from the Nineteen Thirties remained. In any other case the group appeared aggressively regular, if surprisingly abandoned, which had been Wohl’s expertise.

“What shocked me essentially the most was how mundane and fairly and type of common all the things appeared,” she stated. “It’s a part of what prompted me to write down the play, as a result of if we’re going to dwell as much as the ethical crucial of ‘by no means once more,’ we’ve got to take a look at these tales, we’ve got to inform these tales and we’ve got to be taught from them.”

For a lot of its operating time, “Camp Siegfried” resembles a romantic drama, a coming-of-age story. That’s a queasy proposition, contemplating the play’s setting. On this boy-meets-girl, the woman lives on Hitler Road. Wohl — who has Jewish ancestry, a Jewish husband and is elevating her daughters within the Jewish religion — is conscious of this, anxious even.

“I discover her very nervous about these dangers,” Cromer, who can be Jewish, stated throughout a cellphone interview, “superbly nervous and never self-congratulatory about them in any respect. However that doesn’t cease her from taking them. It’s tough for her to not take these massive dangers. After which she executes them with rigor and thoroughness and depth. She does irresponsible issues actually responsibly.”

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