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Roger Peltzman - Dedication Interview

Roger Peltzman’s poignant solo show Dedication explores the powerful role of music in helping to relieve wounds that will never fully heal. Recounting his coming to terms with second generation survivor trauma, Peltzman’s Dedication explores his family’s tragic history fleeing the Nazi invasion in war-torn Europe. After learning about his uncle Norbert Stern, a brilliant pianist, who was murdered in Auschwitz aged 21, Peltzman developed a fascination with his inheritance. Holocaust trauma can be inherited by the next generation, but through music, one-man tribute Dedication looks at how art can begin to heal.

After an acclaimed run in New York and at the Edinburgh Fringe, Dedication will be making its London debut at Marylebone Theatre, London’s newest cross-arts venue. The production will run from Wednesday 7th June until Saturday 24th June.

Ahead of the run, I sat down with Roger to discuss the show.

A deeply personal and poetic piece, what inspired you to write the show?

My friend was originally going to write a piece on my family, in which I would act and play piano – but I wasn’t satisfied with how it was turning out and he kindly suggested that I should write it. It took about 4 years and one hundred drafts to get it right.

What inspired me to write the show was a deep need to tell my family’s story. And to tell it in a non-cliched manner. Something that could resonate with today’s audiences. I also wanted to talk about second-generation trauma from a just a regular American kid’s point of view- something I haven’t seen done. The show had to be humorous, poignant, contain music and have powerful images.

Did you have to do any research whilst writing the piece?

An incredible amount of research went into writing the show. I wrote to many organizations. I travelled to many countries and I sought out people who may have known my family. Doing this research not only helped me write the show…it also helped me get to know my dear family. I also made lifetime friends during my search.

How did you decide what pieces of music to include in the show?

The main piece that closes out the show is a Nocturne by Chopin. My uncle Norbert, who figures large in the show, was the finest concert pianist in Belgium. His forte was Chopin. And I feel very deeply that our mutual love and propensity for playing Chopin’s music bonds us.

The show explores the healing power of the arts, how have the arts shaped your life?

I was a lazy and directionless kid. And I think because of second-generation trauma is was exacerbated. In College, I discovered classical piano and it transformed my life. It gave it meaning and substance. Connecting with Norbert primarily because music has made my life much richer.

Roger Peltzman's Dedication.

Having enjoyed runs in New York and at the Edinburgh Fringe, how excited are you to debut it in London?

I love London. I’ve probably visited here more than any other city in the world. (I even mention in the play the now extinct Goose and Firkin pub in Southwark.) Along with New York, it’s the center of the art world…so I’m thrilled. And the Marylebone is a beautiful theatre!

What do you want an audience member to take away from seeing Dedication?

People have become inured to the Holocaust because of the same images being used over and over. If people walk away on from Dedication moved because they get to know my family as people, that they can identify with – then I’ve succeeded. I want everyone to know that there is no “other.” We are all humans. And also if I can inspire people to search their roots in an effort to overcome their trauma…then that’s rewarding as well.

Can you describe Dedication in 3 words?

Love, Remembrance, Art

Roger Peltzman's Dedication plays at London's Marylebone Theatre from Wednesday 7th to Saturday 24th June. Tickets are available from 

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