About the Plays

A Journey to Kreisau

A Journey to Kreisau tells the powerful story of a young German couple, Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke, who were at the center of a resistance effort that included several meetings at the von Moltke estate in Kreisau, in Eastern Germany; this relatively small group of friends laid plans for a post-Hitler world that would encompass a democratic Germany within a democratic Europe. Helmuth James was arrested and imprisoned and later executed by the Nazis during the final months of the Third Reich. Freya escaped with their two sons, ultimately coming to live in Vermont where, (via a German-Jewish dialogue group), Marc had the opportunity to meet with her many times and receive her cooperation in his work on the play. The von Moltke estate, now in Poland and called Krzyzowa, is a center for the study of democratic values and facilitates European integration.

Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke looking out the window of a train
Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke, photo courtesy of Helmuth Caspar von Moltke

Read the Playwright/Director’s notes, Excerpted Comments,
and Production Chronology
for A Journey to Kreisau


Karski

In determining the focus of his second play about resistance, Marc wished to look at Polish resistance and immediately thought of Jan Karski whose compelling book, Story of a Secret State, Marc had read as a boy. Freya von Moltke strongly encouraged Marc in this choice of a subject for his next play, titled simply, Karski. Jan Karski, sometimes referred to as the man who tried to stop the Holocaust, joined the Polish Underground Army at the outset of the German occupation of his country. He served as courier between underground groups in Poland and the government in exile in London. With breathtaking courage and subterfuge, he smuggled himself into the Warsaw ghetto to witness what was happening there and then (in a borrowed Ukranian guard’s uniform) entered a Nazi extermination camp in Eastern Poland. He was so horrified by what he saw that he made the perilous journey across Nazi-occupied Europe to report first-hand to Western leaders in England and in the U.S. His reports were generally received with disbelief as being too outrageous to be true. Karski remained in the U.S., teaching at Georgetown University until his death in 2000.

Lewis D. Wheeler, actor portraying Karski, 2010; Jan Karski, approximately 1944

Read the Playwright/Director’s notes, Excerpted Comments,
and Production Chronology
for Karski


For Production Rights

For inquiries regarding rights to produce either A Journey to Kreisau or Karski, please e-mail Susan L. Smith here.

***Please note:

From the playwright: Both plays were specifically written to be presented in the format of staged readings. Actors are at music stands or lecterns, with scripts in front of them. They are dressed in street clothes, and there are no sets, props, special lighting effects or sound effects. Lights may be focused on one, several, or all the actors, as per the director. Actors may sit, stand, or move about as per the director. It is up to the words of the script and to the actors to create in the minds of the audience the visualization of the characters and events of the times.