In a Polish town that no longer can be found, Jewish citizens in a “shtetl” — Yiddish for a small Jewish town in Eastern Europe — fled persecution from the Soviet Union in a post-WWI world. They came by boat to America.
It’s a time that has largely gone undocumented in director and writer Mike Steinberg’s family, and it’s something that he seeks to explore on the stage. One of the people who fled Poland was Steinberg’s grandfather, who immigrated to the United States in 1921, changing his name and subsequently leaving his Polish past completely behind.
“As a result, the history of my family begins with the United States of America.” Steinberg narrates in the opening as a projector illuminates the stage’s background with old family photos as actors pile up books, lamps and jars associated with history and memory.
“All along through birth and death, through holidays and failed business ventures, there was never Poland,” the narration continues. “No stories of life before America, no accounting for from whence we came. Whatever we were was taken entirely for granted. Ignored. Forgotten. As if where we were from never really mattered to anyone. We were Americans. And we