three portraits of Etty.

11/12 “Etty” Performance

Hosted by the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education, the play, Etty, will be performed on Tuesday, Nov. 12, in Wallace All Faiths Chapel, Fish Interfaith Center. Directed by Austin Pendleton and adapted and performed by Susan Stein, this play captures the spirit of a young woman caught in a dangerous time. 

In this tempestuous, havoc-ridden world of ours, all real communication comes from the heart.

Etty Hillesum’s life ended at Auschwitz when she was only 29 years old.  In the play Etty, drawn entirely from Etty’s diaries and letters of 1941- 1943, we meet a remarkable young Dutch woman: insightful, determined, poetic, sensual.  Through the voice of Susan Stein, Etty speaks directly to her audience, frankly, and with compassion–even for the enemy.  Seeking the meaning of her life — and all life — during the terror of Nazi occupation, Etty “happens upon” prayer, discovers a reality that she calls God, and opens herself to the power of being fully alive and present, bearing witness to the catastrophe unfolding around her.  In her gentle yet forthright way, Etty asks us not to leave her at Auschwitz, but to let her have a “little bit of a say” in what she hopes will be a new world.

Susan Stein is an actress, playwright and teaching artist living in New York City.   Stein studied acting in the graduate program at New York University Tisch School of the Arts.  She adapted Etty using only Hillesum’s words.  She has performed the play in theaters, universities, and museums throughout the United States.

Austin Pendleton is an American film, television, and stage actor and a playwright and theater director.  He is an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theater Company.  For more information about Etty, the play, or about Etty Hillesum, visit

Conversation following the performance with Glenn Kurtz, Presidential Fellow, Chapman University and author of Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film. 

Stephanie House