SUNY Sullivan Presents "And the Violins Stopped Playing"

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A New Theatrical Production for the 2020-21 Season

Watch Act 1
Watch Act 2
Link for Suggested Donation

SUNY Sullivan is proud to present AND THE VIOLINS STOPPED PLAYING, a staged reading of Alexander Ramati’s harrowing biographical novel set during the dark days of World War II. AND THE VIOLINS STOPPED PLAYING chronicles the true story of Roman Mirga of the Polska Roma and his tribe’s desperate attempt to evade the Nazis, or, failing that, to survive the war.

Adapted by Jessica López-Barkl, Associate Professor of Theater and Speech, the premiere performance will stream live from a Zoom Meeting Room on YouTube. The play will be performed by an international cast of actors participating from New York, Maryland, New Mexico, Washington, California, and Oregon, as well as locations in Canada, Switzerland, Germany and South Korea. Act One of AND THE VIOLINS STOPPED PLAYING will be performed on October 9, at 8 p.m. and Act Two will follow on October 10, at 8 p.m. For those unable to stream the performances via YouTube, contact Jessica López-Barkl at for Zoom registration details and any further information. Tickets are a suggested donation of $10 to the SUNY Sullivan Theater Program/Performing Arts Club.

AND THE VIOLINS STOPPED PLAYING follows an embattled Roma tribe as they attempt to outrun the Nazis. The story provides a unique perspective on the racial and ethnic tensions during World War II. In the play, a Roma son who happens to have blonde hair manages to survive the concentration camps with the protection of the infamously cruel Dr. Josef Mengele, known as the Angel of Death. The son’s Roma identity and ability to pass as white complicate his circumstances for better and for worse, during a time when the Roma people were marked for death by the Nazis.

AND THE VIOLINS STOPPED PLAYING is one of several productions in SUNY Sullivan’s 2020-21 theater season to examine the impacts of literal or figurative ‘wars,’ either in microcosm or on a larger scale. The play is, at its heart, both a stirring historical document and a chilling lesson on the importance of historical study. AND THE VIOLINS STOPPED PLAYING invites the audience to remember the past and, hopefully, learn from it.

López-Barkl’s adaptation tilizes the Book-It Style®. By performing books instead of plays, the Book-It theatre experience endeavors to both spark the viewer’s interest in reading and to challenge the audience to participate by using their imaginations.

Author Biography

Alexander Ramati (1921–2006) was born David Solomonovich Grinberg, and was a noted Polish writer and filmmaker, and a war journalist during WWII. He entered Assisi in June 1944 with the Allied forces and met Rufino Niccacci, inspiring him to write The Assisi Underground in 1978. In 1978, he directed a film adaptation of his book. In 1985, he wrote a book based on the memoirs of Dymitr Mirga, whom he met after the war. He also adapted his book into a film in 1988.

Playwright Biography

Jessica López-Barkl is currently the Associate Professor of Theater and Speech/Theater Program Director at SUNY Sullivan. She is also a freelance actor, director, dramaturg, and designer. Her plays THE ORESTEIA LIVE, ROUTE 666, her adaptation of Tae Sok Oh’s AFRICA, AND THE VIOLINS STOPPED PLAYING, THE WAITRESS AND THE NAIL TECHNICIAN SHOULD BE FRIENDS, THE WOMAN IN 10A, SHAKESPEARE’S B*T*HS’ AND HOES, and HEART OF AWL have been performed in theaters in Seattle, Albuquerque, Sarah Lawrence College, and New York City.