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            a program of Jewish Museum of Maryland

            in collaboration with Heritage Theatre Artists’ Consortium

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Caitlin Bell acknowledges that the three historic Baltimore figures on whom she based on her one-act play Three Jewish Lives may have never been in the same place at the same time.

But there were connections. Ella Gutman Hutzler - daughter of one Baltimore department store owner and wife of another - knew Henrietta Szold, who founded Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. Szold, in turn, was a mentor and mother figure to Russian-born artist Saul Bernstein.

One night in November 1901, Szold had a showing of Bernstein's paintings at her Lombard Street home. Ella Hutzler's husband, David, bought one of the paintings. "Saul was studying in Paris at the time, but because his work was here, we took creative license and brought him back from Paris for one evening," explains Bell, a local playwright and arts educator.

Produced by the Jewish Museum of Maryland, Three Jewish Lives will be performed there at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Feb. 24. Because of Bernstein's background, the museum is billing the show as its contribution to Baltimore's Vivat! St. Petersburg festival. The cast consists of Bell's mother, Tana Hicken, in the role of Szold; Marsha Becker as Hutzler; and Joseph Corgan as Bernstein. Direction is by Bell and Harriet Lynn.

The impetus for Three Lives came from several separate impulses. The first was a walking tour of Baltimore's former department store district, led by Lynn, in the guise of Ella Hutzler. Conducted in October 2001 and April 2002 for the Jewish Museum, the tour was a typical project for Lynn, who heads the Baltimore-based Heritage Theater Artists' Consortium, which specializes in living history and museum theater.

In the course of her research, Lynn found herself increasingly drawn to Hutzler's contemporary, Szold, and she approached the museum about doing a project about the Baltimore-born Zionist leader.

Meanwhile, as part of its educational outreach, the museum had developed a trunk show about Bernstein that traveled to schools. "Inside the trunk were curricula to study his work," Bell says, "and they wanted to add a living history piece - an actor."

"Serendipity" is the word Lynn uses to describe the eventual blending of Bernstein, Szold and Hutzler's stories in Three Lives. Most of the research was conducted at the museum, whose archives include extensive correspondence between Szold and Bernstein.

Bell also finds the juxtaposition of Hutzler and Bernstein's lives dramatically rich. "[Hutzler's] normalcy with regard to the play makes it very interesting. Her life is very peaceful when you hold it up to Saul's, which is very complex, running from his homeland to America and feeling very displaced and homeless and alienated," she explains.

The play has given Bell an opportunity to work more closely, on a professional basis, than she ever has with her mother, an actress who was a longtime company member at Washington's Arena Stage and whose local credits include Center Stage and, more recently, Everyman Theatre. "She's teaching me a lot, and she's wonderful [at] making sure that nothing goes by without very careful understanding," Bell says of Hicken.

The museum has sent fliers about the show to Baltimore city and county schools, and Lynn hopes it will also find audiences at community centers and synagogues.

It's already prompted one unexpected but very welcome response. The museum was recently contacted by Bernstein's grandson, Peter, who learned about the project through the Internet. Bell and Lynn spent a day at his Alexandria, Va., home last week. Besides seeing examples of Saul Bernstein's artwork, they were shown family photographs and additional letters.

Bell had thought her research was complete. But now, she says, "This play could certainly have an Act 2."

Tickets to Three Jewish Lives, which is supported by the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Fund of the Associated, are $5 for general admission, free for museum members. Seating is limited, so reservations are suggested. The Jewish Museum of Maryland is at 15 Lloyd St. A conversation with the cast will follow the 6 p.m. performance. Call 410-732-6400.

Theatre Review in Baltimore Sun, January 30, 2003

J. Wynn Rousuck, Sun Theatre Critic


Three Jewish Lives

by Caitlin Bell

based on materials in

Jewish Museum of Maryland’s archives

Produced for Jewish Museum of Maryland

by Heritage Theatre Artists’ Consortium

Co-Directors - Harriet Lynn and Caitlin

(part of Vivat! St. Petersburg Celebration)


Tana Hicken - Henrietta Szold

Marsha Becker - Ella Gutman Hutzler

Joseph Corgan - Saul Bernstein

Old Lloyd Street Synagogue

artist, Melvin O.  Miler

                           Henrietta Szold

photo:  National Museum of American Jewish History

Saul Bernstein

photo: Jewish Museum   

    of Maryland

Ella Joline Gutman Hutzler

Photo courtesy of The Jewish Museum of Maryland     20000.085.008

Heritage Theatre Artists Consortium

116 W.University Parkway     Penthouse 3

Baltimore, MD 21210

ph/fax: 410-235-4457