Review Fix chats with “Hoaxocaust!” director Jeremy Gold Kronenberg, who discusses how he got involved with the show, why it’s special and where he’d like to it to be following this run. A HS Theatre teacher by day, Gold Kronenberg is one busy bee.
For more information, visit www.hoaxocaust.com
About the Production:
What roles should past horrors play in defining ourselves, our religious views, or even our politics? Is there such a thing as a contemporary Jewish identity independent of the Holocaust? Should there be? What if the Holocaust had never happened? Mahmoud Abbas has said it. Poland has said it. Some people currently running for our Congress and in our President’s coalition have said it. If the Holocaust didn’t happen… what did? Join writer/performer Barry Levey on an around-the-world adventure as he tracks down deniers from Illinois to Iran meets engineers and ex-presidents, and dodges a brother in Hungary and a boyfriend back home on a journey to discover the shocking truth.
Developed at the New Group, the cell, and Prospect Theater Company at 59E59, Hoaxacaust! previously performed at Theater for the New City and won the NY International Fringe Festival’s 2014 Overall Excellence award. It returned for the FringeNYC Encore Series: Solo in the City at the Baruch Performing Arts Center before touring to Jersey City Theater Center and Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael.
Hoaxocaust! plays 23 performances through Sun, Sept 30.
Review Fix: How did you originally get involved in theatre?
Jeremy Gold Kronenberg: That is actually a really serendipitous question. While I always had a theatrical flair, enjoyed make believe, and singing and dancing, it wasn’t until fifth grade that I actually started performing in plays and musicals. In fifth grade, I went to Beachwood Youth Theatre’s production of Pinocchio because a few classmates were in the production. I watched that performance, starring a plucky Barry Levey as the title character. I was mesmerized. I couldn’t believe my classmates got to do that. From that moment on, I auditioned for every production. My whole experience growing up was filled with theatre in and out of school. And when I graduated, I decided to pursue theatre as a career.
Review Fix: What was the inspiration to work on Hoaxocaust!?
Kronenberg: I was working as the associate for the Dark Night’s Series at Prospect Theater Company, where companies apply to bring in a production and perform on the existing set during the off nights of their main stage production. As an associate, I was given a slot to direct one of these Dark Nights productions. Barry and I had been friends since we were 12 years old and following high school both pursued professional theatre careers but had not worked together since our senior year. I asked him if he had any projects or scripts he was interested in developing or producing. He pitched a few ideas and finally pitched this idea of an epic Indiana Jones-style global adventure exploring Holocaust denial and the idea of Jewish Identity. I was intrigued, had limited funds, and replied… could that be a 1-man show? He took that idea and ran with it.
Review Fix: What makes Barry special?
Kronenberg: As a writer, Barry has this incredible ability to present really grand and heavily charged material in a way that is accessible, humorous, and human. He creates work that he is passionate about and as a byproduct; an audience is enveloped in that passion. He has a driven voice and strong opinions, but he listens. He listens to others’ responses, their arguments, their praise, their concern… and is able to synthesize that material into something useful that still serves his original intent. He’s also wickedly funny and can find a way to seamlessly include humor in incredibly unexpected ways.
Review Fix: What are you most proud of in this production?
Kronenberg: I’m proud of the life that it has had. 10 years ago we had no idea how relevant this piece would continue to be. Which also saddens me, because the rampant rise of Holocaust Denial and fake news in recent years has made this piece even more pertinent. Every time we work on this piece, I get a little scared for what we’re doing. I’m proud of that fear. I’m proud that we’re working on material that is so relevant and important and provokes such impassioned responses. As an artist, I thrive on telling stories that really affect an audience.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Kronenberg: As a director, I always come into a rehearsal process with a strong idea of what I want the piece to say and the manner in which I want it to be conveyed. However, I don’t ever believe that my ideas shouldn’t be challenged and that my way is the only way or the smartest way. I think it’s important to walk into the first rehearsal with a firm sense of what I’m doing … and an openness to respond to all the other creative voices surrounding me. I have confidence enough in myself to be malleable and recognize when others’ ideas and perceptions may shift my original notions. I thrive on the collaborative nature of the art form. I certainly know when it’s important for me to be firm and when I need to lead, however, I am fueled by the moments when I get to listen to others, to process, to reflect, to respond, and at times to revise.
Review Fix: What makes this different or special?
Kronenberg: The piece is constantly evolving based on the political climate and current events. In fact, this summer, the show has had dozens of revisions to reflect the ever-changing status quo. It’s an exciting piece that really is responsive to what is happening right now in the here and now.
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this process?
Kronenberg: I’ve learned how important it is for me to check and cross-reference my news sources and I certainly have preferred outlets that are my go-to’s. But I also have found that I need to be judicious in examining claims and arming myself with truths so that I can back up my beliefs with verifiable facts. I’ve learned that there are a lot of frightening people out there speaking frightening fallacies, and it’s critical for me to be a part of a movement of people pushing back and challenging what is simply untrue.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this production and for the future?
Kronenberg: I hope this piece has a long-continued life that I get to be a part of. I hope that it continues to evolve and change. I hope that this piece is part of a movement that forces a revolution where we reduce the rampant exploitation of fake news. Perhaps naive and idealistic, my ultimate goal is that we get to a place in the world where this piece becomes an unnecessary response to what is happening now and serves as an artifact piece about a particular period of time in our history.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Kronenberg: I straddle my work as a director between my work as a full-time high school theatre teacher. I’ve spent much of the summer focusing my attention on Hoaxocaust! What’s coming up immediately is the beginning of a new school year with new students and old creating exciting theatre work with young artists. As a high school theatre teacher, I have the awesome privilege of using my classroom for something bigger than merely performance but as an arena where I get to foster students’ self-confidence, self-worth, and authentic identity through the practice and application of theatre.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Kronenberg: Just that we’re super excited for people to come and take this journey with us at the 14th Street Y and to be a part of asking and contemplating challenging questions.