Between Worlds is an original theater piece conceived and written by Bay Area nonagenarian playwright and actor, Naomi Newman (co-founder of A Traveling Jewish Theatre), and based on the poetry and life of child Holocaust survivor, political activist, and lesbian poet, Irena Klepfisz. The play, which is in English with some Yiddish woven in, is presented by an ensemble of four actors including Naomi, who plays the lead role of Irena, and Aviya Hernstadt, who plays young Irena; it is directed by Yiddish Theatre Ensemble Co-Artistic Director, Bruce Bierman. The other 2 actors are Diana Bukowska playing Irena’s mother Rose, and Ariel Luckey, in the role of her father, Michal. The three supporting ensemble actors play multiple characters animating the poet’s memories.

This Bay Area premiere about the transformative power of poetry and a writer’s journey facing the trauma of war, displacement and identity weaves together a narrative storyline with Irena Klepfisz’s poetry and describes seminal moments in the poet’s life and her role as the “keeper of accounts” of a vanished world. Vignettes describe her escape from the Warsaw Ghetto and survival in war-torn Poland. Immigrating to New York, Irena tells of her struggles with a new language and the pull of the world left behind and reveals intimacies as she explores her passions as a lesbian, the pleasures of a life-long relationship, and the death of a loved one. Ever present are the haunting memories of her father—a martyr of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The multi-cultural, multi-generational, and LGBTQ cast of actors is accompanied by an original score created and performed by renowned musicians percussionist Barbara Borden and Susanne DiVincenzo on cello and bass.