The Book of Joseph

January 29

March 5, 2017

Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare

by Karen Hartman
based on the life of Joseph A. Hollander and his family
directed by Barbara Gaines

★★★★ This real-life story is directed with intensity of emotion and reminds an audience to pay attention to changes in the world.

Chicago Tribune

A simple yet wondrous insight into the nature of those who not only survived against all odds, but prevailed

Chicago Sun-Times

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The Play

Every family has its secrets. The Hollander family’s spanned three generations and two continents, from World War II Poland to present-day America, all locked in a suitcase in Joseph Hollander’s attic. When his son, Richard, uncovered the suitcase, he found more than just Swastika-stamped letters and legal documents—he found a family he never met, and a father’s legacy that was never mentioned. A family torn apart by war, fighting to escape and survive, an unplanned immigration and quest to stay in the US, and a tale of love lost and found, were all captured in letters uncovered a generation later, which became the book Every Day Lasts a Year. Now adapted into The Book of Joseph, the Hollander family journey offers a story for each of us.



Gallery: On Stage

Video: Critical Acclaim

Listen: WBEZ Interview with Rick Boynton and Rich Hollander


More to Explore

Critical Acclaim

"Potent and targeted, Barbara Gaines’ inaugural staging keeps it real and, even better, current. The two-act tour de truth shifts and twists our perceptions of innocence and survivor guilt..."
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An Introduction from Rich Hollander

"A stew of memory, deeds, morality, and, most of all, values. That is the best we can leave our children and grandchildren."
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A Scholar's Perspective

"The story is simple, true, and fraught with loss...Oppression and emigration have never stopped; pained propulsion has for too long formed part of the human condition."
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The Players

Creative Team

Karen Hartman Writer

Barbara Gaines Director

Scott Davis Scenic Designer

Philip Rosenberg Lighting Designer

Rachel Healy Costume Designer

Mike Tutaj Projections Designer

Mikhail Fiksel Co-Sound Designer

Miles Polaski Co-Sound Designer

Richard Jarvie Wigs & Make-Up Designer

Matt Raftery Choreographer / Associate Director

Adam Goldstein Dialect Coach


Glynis Bell Berta Hollander / Miss Blaustein

Adam Wesley Brown Craig Hollander

Amy J. Carle Mania Nachtigal / Court Interpreter / Iris Spitzman

Sean Fortunato Joseph Hollander

Mikey Gray Lusia Wimisner

Francis Guinan Richard Hollander

Patricia Lavery Dola Stark / Vita Fischman

Ron E. Rains Salo Nachtigall / Court Officer / Stanley Diana / Arnold Spitzman

Gail Shapiro Klara Wimisner / Felicja Hollander

Brenann Stacker Genka Wimisner

Additional Pages