Etty is a portrayal of one woman’s struggle to sustain humanity in the face of Nazi’s unspeakable brutality.

… hoped to be among the spiritual and intellectual architects of the world that would emerge after World War II.

… wrote about the life she was living – her loves, her work, her wry sense of humor, her deep sensuality and the moment in history.

… asks us to consider our own responsibility today, in a world where promise of “never again” has not yet been realized.

Crafted solely from Hillesum's writings, this unconventional theater experience brings the audience into Etty's thinking, as she wrestles to write the life she is living--her loves, her work, her wry sense of humor, her knowledge of self and the moment in history.

Amsterdam, Holland. 1941. Esther “Etty” Hillesum is a 27-year-old Jewish woman studying Russian at university. She is bright and talented and has already earned her law degree, but she suffers under the weight of a sometimes overwhelming depression. For this she seeks the help of Julius Spier, a brilliant eccentric Jungian therapist. His unusual methods include palm reading and wrestling. He encourages Etty to keep a diary of her innermost thoughts.

Holland has been occupied by Nazi Germany for a year. The rights of Jews are incrementally stripped away. They are barred from traveling without a special permit; from holding cultural posts; from entering public parks; from attending public and vocational schools. They can only shop between the hours of 3 and 5 PM. Trainloads of Jews are deported to Poland and the East, to mysterious places with names like Sobibor and Auschwitz.

Etty is determined not to see herself as a victim. As the world closes in around her, Etty nurtures her inner resources and finds a freedom within herself that is unshakeable.

Run time:

55 minutes, plus a “2nd Act” talkback following a 15-minute intermission.


Nominated for Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression Award