In the play, Etty, drawn entirely from Hillesum’s diaries and letters of 1941 – 1943, we meet a remarkable young Dutch woman: insightful,determined, poetic, sensual. Through the voice of actress Susan Stein, Hillesum speaks directly to her audience, frankly, and with compassion–even for the enemy. Seeking the meaning of her life–and all life–during the terror of Nazi occupation, Hillesum discovers a reality she calls God and opens herself to the power of being fully alive and present, bearing witness to the catastrophe unfolding around her. In her gentle yet forthright way, Hillesum asks us not to leave her at Auschwitz, but to let her have a “little bit of a say” in what she hopes will be a new world.
Susan Stein is an actress, playwright and teaching artist living in New York City. She has performed Etty in theatres, universities and museums throughout the United States.
Austin Pendleton is an American film, television, and stage actor, a playwright and theatre director. He is an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.