Giuliana Carr ’18 stars in a world premiere at Luna Stage, Mrs. Stern Wanders the Prussian State Library, a suspenseful drama about one of the world’s deepest thinkers, the political philosopher best known by her pen name, Hannah Arendt.
The play is inspired by real events with Carr as Mrs. Stern drawing on the skills she honed at Montclair State “to delve into the heart and mind” of the powerful historical figure at a pivotal moment in her life.
Playwright Jenny Lyn Bader sets the drama in 1933 Berlin after Hitler has declared a state of emergency. Martial law is in effect and political activism has become a capital crime. A young police officer gets promoted to the newly created political division. In his first week at this new job he arrests Mrs. Stern, a graduate student seen copying documents in the library. Is Mrs. Stern an innocent who pressed a button on the mimeograph machine at the wrong moment? Or is she an enemy of the state?
“When I first read the play, I was chilled by the ways it resonates with current events,” says Luna’s Artistic Director Ari Laura Kreith. “How do we respond to the detention of innocent people? What happens when political action becomes criminalized? What do we do when laws are no longer fixed, and can be applied retroactively to justify prosecution and persecution?”
Carr, who earned a BFA in Acting from Montclair State University, says she admires Hannah Arendt’s “desire for understanding and her refusal to be a bystander during the political darkness of Germany in 1933. It has been an honor to get to know her through this process.”
Studying acting at Montclair State provided “an abundance of useful tools” to pull from when working on the role, Carr says. “Through exploration in all our various classes (Acting, Voice, Movement, Shakespeare) and when working on full productions at Montclair State, I made discoveries about what techniques work for me as an actor, and continue to apply those techniques now.”
The drama also features Brett Temple as the officer who interrogates Mrs. Stern, and Karl Kenzler as the attorney sent to defend her.
The production runs October 17 – November 10. Luna Stage is located in the Valley Arts District, West Orange.