This production was a literal labor of love.
Naava wrote it and performs it in honor the memory of her mother
Chayela Rosenthal, star of the Yiddish Theatre in the Vilna
Ghetto, and later a star of the stage in South Africa and on
Broadway. The show also profiles her uncle, composer Leyb
Rosenthal. The work is quite touching. It of course
touches on the many horrors of the Holocaust, but it also is an
uplifting piece about survival and spiritual renewal.
The title of the piece, Better Don't Talk, refers
to the silence so common from survivors of the Holocaust.
Naava was not able to learn details of her mother and uncle's
past until after her mother's death when she started to sort
through the thousands of scraps of paper her mother and father
had squirreled away, records of this period from notes taken in
the concentration camp to family photos to newspaper accounts to
journals to manuscripts in six different languages from Hebrew
and Yiddish to French, Russian, German, and even Afrikaans.
Since the primary research existed, and is
central to this work of truth, I paid a visit to Naava's
wonderful home which overlooks the skyline of New York to see
her treasure trove of family scraps first hand. I was bowled
over first by the amount of it, and secondly to the incredible
I brought my high-resolution camera and
photographed 997 artifacts from her collection of materials, and
these photographs formed the basis of the set. The scraps of
paper that Naava discovered in real life served as pieces