Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the staging of an original play by Dana Boll.
The play, Bella’s Dream, tells the story of Dana’s grandparents, Bella and Raymond Boll escaping the Holocaust. The story is not a typical Holocaust survival story. Their journey begins when Bella is visited in her dream by her late brother who tells her she must flee immediately. They flee to Russia only to be captured and brought to labor camps in Siberia; then they are freed and brought to the desert of Uzbekistan where they make a life; then they attempt to return to Poland and eventually land in the United States. The story of survival is framed by another true story in a modern day supermarket where Dana’s father encounters a Neo-Nazi. Throughout the story, Dana narrates, existing in the various time periods, witnessing what goes on and listening to the reflection of the characters.
Bella’s Dream has been in process for two years, with countless hours of research performed by Dana to figure out exactly where Bella and Raymond had been on their journey and what they had experienced. The play includes original voice recordings of the couple telling their story.
Dana also employs the use of movement and dance in her work. Pieces such as “Such a day” and “April Showers” tell the story of being grateful for what you have and the struggle to survive. Other silent dances tell the tragic and harrowing stories of the brutality of war.
My role in all of this was production assistant, and having never worked on a play before, I was eager to learn the intricacies first-hand from a talented, creative, and caring writer/director such as Dana. It must be amazing and also extremely stressful to put together a work that is so close to your heart – in order to convey your family’s history in a truthful light. It is a brave thing to do to tell your family’s history for all to hear. The actors, dancers, and consulting director were all so amazing in making this production happen. They were so devoted to the work and truly committed to fulfilling Dana’s vision. I was so lucky to be a part of this great team.
All in all, it was an amazing night with the audience filled with Dana’s family, members of the Gombin society, and close friends who were able to connect to this amazing story. I cannot wait to see this work fully realized on stage.