Thoughts on A Shayna Maidel

by David Ellenstein, Director

Resiliency and hope

When I first directed A Shayna Maidel by Barbara Lebow in 1990, it proved to be a moving and profound experience for me, not only as a theatre artist, but as a human being. Though set against the backdrop of the Holocaust, it was the story of one family’s courage and strength in dealing with profound tragedy. The beauty and inherent power in the play was felt by all who worked on it and all who attended. The production helped to shape my concept of what great theatre can do; how it can affect not only the audience but the artists that work to bring it life. It helped to set my course going forward as a theatre artist.

In 2009, I chose to revisit the play again, and directed a production at North Coast Repertory Theatre. Once again, the play had impact and effect upon all experienced it.

And so here, in 2023, Laguna Playhouse has chosen to bring this beautiful and important play to the stage once again. Its intriguing story and timeless message of resiliency and hope resonates as truly and purely as when I first encountered it. It is with great excitement that I approach the work for a third time, knowing once again that I will find a life a affirming experience awaiting me.

Theatre has power to make our world a better place. A Shayna Maidel is a great example of theatre embracing what it is to be a human being and lifting it to the special optic of the stage for us all to experience together.

See you at Laguna Playhouse!