A Nightmare of the Holocaust
About the play
Angel: A Nightmare in Two Acts uses the setting of the Holocaust to explore contemporary values, the question of personal responsibility versus universal guilt, and the seductive appeal of evil. Controversial and thought-provoking, Angel offers strong roles for women and strong subject matter for theaters seeking to challenge themselves and their audiences.
Angel is a drama based on the trial and execution of real-life Nazi war criminal Irma Grese. Grese became a concentration camp guard at the age of sixteen, was prosecuted by the British in the Belsen trials, and was executed at the age of 21 for her crimes against humanity. A strikingly beautiful woman, she was dubbed by the international press as The Blonde Angel of Auschwitz. During the play, Irmas prosecutor falls under her fatal charms. He is drawn, along with the audience, down into a private nightmare where the tables are turned and he becomes the accused. Also dragged into the nightmare is Olga Lengyel, a survivor of Auschwitz, who teaches the prosecutor a lesson about dignity and survival.
Read Excerpts from the Play:
Cast of Characters
IRMA GRESE started work in the concentration camp service at the age of 16. Many camp survivors believe she was lover to Josef Mengele and camp commandant Kramer, among others. She was known to coerce Polish prisoners to engage in sexual acts. While in the camp, she forced one of the prisoner doctors to perform an abortion on her. Most of the testimony in the play given by Helene Grese about Irma and her family is quoted from the Belsen trial transcripts. Irma was executed at the age of 21. Further research: The Beautiful Beast : The Life & Crimes of SS-Aufseherin Irma Grese by Daniel P. Brown
JOSEF MENGELE was a doctor at Auschwitz concentration camp where he conducted a series of barbaric experiments on prisoners. Mengele escaped to South America after the war, where he lived out his life in relative comfort. During his `exile,' he once returned to Germany for a family funeral, and may have returned home on other occasions. He died in South America of accidental drowning. His death remained secret for seven years. (Coincidentally, seven years is the statute of limitation in Germany for aiding and abetting escaped war criminals.) Recommended reading about Mengele
OLGA LENGYEL and her family were transported from their home in Transylvania to Auschwitz in 1944. Olga worked in the camp infirmary. She aided in the camp rebellion that destroyed one of the crematoria. She was the only member of her family to survive Auschwitz. She chronicled her experiences in her autobiography The Five Chimneys, the first book to give a survivor's view of a concentration camp. Olga lived in New York City until her death in the summer of 2001, where she was a manager of a foundation to educate people about the Holocaust. The foundation has as its name the number tattooed on Olga's forearm by the Auschwitz guards.
HELENE GRESE. All the playwright has been able to learn of Helene Grese is from the transcripts of the Belsen trials. Some have claimed that the woman who took the stand on Irma's behalf was not really her sister, but a woman hired to provide testimony.
THE ATTORNEYS. The prosecution and defense at the Belsen trials were handled by teams of attorneys. The lawyers in the play are not based on any individuals. They are the complete creation of the playwright.
For information about production rights, please contact:
Producers and artistic directors of established theaters wishing a perusal copy by email should contact Jo Davidsmeyer. Copies of the script may be ordered.
All rights whatsoever in this play are strictly reserved. Professional and amateur applications to perform it, etc., must be made in advance, before rehearsals begin. For further information, . (Note: for information about German-language productions of this play, contact Thespis Verlag.)
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