Review: Letters to Sala


Alexander Thorp

Sala, played by Jing Mae Wang ’20, shows her family (left to right: Candace McQuaig ’20, Caroline Gallagher ’19, and Ava Vercesi ’19) her old letters.

After months of work and many nine o’clock rehearsals, the Drama Department premiered ‘Letters to Sala’ on December 4th, 2018. Set in Germany during the 1940s, the play tells the hardships of a young girl named Sala after she takes her sister’s place in a Nazi work camp. “We chose this play because it wasn’t just about the Holocaust” said junior director Cassandra Ng ’20. “As students, it’s really difficult for us to envision the Holocaust as anything but black and white. But, with ‘Letters to Sala,’ we not only see the Holocaust as a whole event, but see its family dynamic as well,” added Ng.

‘Letters to Sala’ was first and foremost a heartfelt depiction of Jewish life during the nineteen hundreds. The play has two stories occurring simultaneously, one focused on Sala’s present day life, and the other on her experiences as a young girl. In the play’s later stages, it becomes increasingly more apparent how big of an impact the war had on Jewish families. “It was truly eye opening, and I can see the effort the cast and crew put into the production,” said Tina Ou ’20.

Alexander Thorp
Young Sala, played by Chloe Shamisso ‘21, reads a letter that she has received in the work camp from her family back home.

The cast flawlessly executed the transition between the two time periods. One particularly compelling scene was when Ng, who also played a Jewish girl in the work camps, screamed as she was dragged away by Nazis from the others at the camp. Her scream instilled a sense of fear in me, as if I was present in that moment. I also particularly loved how each time Sala received a letter, both she and her loved ones read the letters together. I thought that this was a very powerful way to share the pain the separation brought them.

“It was truly eye opening, and I can see the effort the cast and crew put into the production,” said Tina Ou ’20.

My favorite part about the play was how Sala kept every letter she received in the work camps, putting her own life at risk just to save the precious memos of her friends and family. I personally also love keeping every letter I receive, so I understand the why Sala kept these letters. Being able to reread these letters allows the reader to experience the same emotions they felt while reading the letter for the first time. A play like this really gets you to think about your own lives and how different it would be if this had happened to you.

Alexander Thorp
Young Sala, played by Chloe Shamisso ‘21, talking to her peers in the work camp.

The effort that the cast and crew put in the play was reflected in the play’s success. Working together also creates a special bond between the cast and crew. “I loved working with such a hard working group of students. This play reflects what we do here at Bronx Science- creating our own stories about our lives,” said Ms. Steiker. The play touched the hearts of many students as it provides us with an insight of how much the Holocaust affected Jewish families in the 1940s.

Alexander Thorp
Young Sala, played by Chloe Shamisso ‘21,reads a heartfelt letter that she has received from her loved one.