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September 23, 2005

Aimee and Jaguar, live and in person

Red Hen brings tale of love in Nazi Germany
to the boards

Cleveland--It is said that love blooms in the darkest of places. Certainly, there were few darker places or times than in Berlin in 1942, as the Holocaust was raging and Nazi Germany was waging war to subjugate Europe.

It is in front of that bleak backdrop that Lily Wust, a “good” German woman, begins an affair with Felice Schragenheim, who is hiding her Judaism to stay alive.

If the story sounds familiar, it is. Both the novel and film Aimee and Jaguar tell it. Pat Rowe’s Forbidden, a stage dramatization of the novel, is another look at the tale.

Making its debut at the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, Red Hen, Cleveland’s feminist theater, is presenting the first American production of Forbidden, with Elizabeth R. Wood as Lily and Liz Conway as Felice. Dan Kilbane plays Erich, Felice’s best friend and would-be suitor. Heather A. Peterson, Nicole McLaughlin and Kevin B. Coughlin round out the cast under the direction of Karen Gygli.

The story goes deeper. Lily is the wife of a Nazi officer. Felice has staged her own suicide and is now on the run from the Gestapo. And both women could be sent to the camps both for their relationship, in addition to either being a Jew or hiding a Jew in perhaps the darkest era in human history.

Forbidden is the featured production of Red Hen Feminist Theater’s 10th anniversary season, which began with Women on the Verge of . . . Figuring it Out! The anthology included two plays, Brownie Points by Nicolle Nattrass and Harvesting the Marigold Seeds by Maureen Brady Johnson.

“Those who have come before us have built a solid foundation for the organization and we are resolved to continue our mission of creating quality theater by and about women,” said artistic director Rose Leininger, who serves double-duty as the production manager for Forbidden.

She goes on to quote gay playwright Tony Kushner, “It’s never the case that a work of art is directly responsible for changing the world. Only activism, direct political action, does that. But art can help change people, who then decide to change their own lives, change their neighborhood, their community, their society, the world.”

Leininger also noted that Rowe would be in town for the first two evenings of the production, September 29 and 30.

Forbidden will play on Thursday, Friday and Sunday from September 29 to October 23. The Thursday and Friday shows will be at 7:30 pm, the Sunday matinee at 3:30 pm. Tickets are $15, and the production will be in the Cleveland Black Box Theater inside Cabaret Dada, 1210 West 6th Street. For tickets or more information, call 216-5560910 or go to

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