The story of Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust survivor whose efforts led to the arrest of more than 1,100 Nazi war criminals, came to Rodeheaver Auditorium Thursday at 8 p.m. and will be presented again tonight at the same time.
The play Wiesenthal is the first Artist Series program of the 2017 spring semester at Bob Jones University. Tom Dugan is both the playwright and the sole actor in the entire performance, Wiesenthal.
The play tells the true story of Wiesenthal, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust.
Wiesenthal has been nicknamed “the Jewish James Bond” as he brought over 1,100 Nazi war criminals across the globe to justice after approximately 22,000 spread out across the globe.
To tell the story of Wiesenthal’s adventures, Dugan wrote the story with only one scene, Wiesenthal’s office and one character, Wiesenthal himself. This gives the impression that the audience is sitting in Wiesenthal’s office, located in Vienna, and simply listening to his many stories.
Wiesenthal is unusual for BJU because it comes entirely from an outside source.
BJU often directs the plays presented on campus, as well as casts many staff and students for various roles.
Wiesenthal, however, is being directed by Jenny Sullivan while Dugan, the playwright, stars as Wiesenthal.
Rodeheaver Auditorium, the venue for Wiesenthal, was chosen because of its smaller, more intimate layout.
The script is composed of many of Wiesenthal’s true adventures woven together in order to give an overview of his life.
While the play has dark themes, it has a balance that helps relieve the tension. There is humor found throughout the story, says Darren Lawson, dean of the School of Fine Arts and Communication, who saw the show in Dallas.
Lawson was so impressed by the production that he was inspired to bring the play to BJU.
Lawson said the play gives the audience a peek into Wiesenthal’s life and shows that he was a true character.
“[Wiesenthal] had a life of purpose out of adversity,” Lawson said. “Everyone can connect to his story.”
Because of the solemn nature of the story being told, Dugan is very strict about cell phone usage. He has been known to halt performances in order to instruct an audience member to put his phone away.
Many people in the local community have made plans to attend the production, including members of the local Jewish Federation, a group particularly interested in the subject matter.