978-0-7618-5027-4 • Paperback • April 2010 • $46.99 • (£36.00)
978-0-7618-5563-7 • eBook • April 2010 • $44.50 • (£34.00)
Nava Shean was born as Vlasta Schönová in Czechoslovakia. She studied drama in Prague and performed on the Czech stage until her deportation to Terezin concentration camp, where she took an active role in the artistic activity as both an actress and director. She survived Auschwitz and immigrated to Israel in 1948, where she worked as an actress in Israel's leading theaters.
Michelle Fram Cohen is an Israeli-born linguist and writer, and the recipient of the 2003 Israel Hasbara Committee award. She holds graduate degrees in comparative literature and Jewish history and is pursuing a PhD in Hebrew Literature.
Chapter 1 "The Historical Context of To Be An Actress
Chapter 2 "Nava's Two Names"
Chapter 3 Acknowledgements
Chapter 4 1. Youth
Chapter 5 2. Terezin
Chapter 6 3. Back in Prague
Chapter 7 4. New Life
Chapter 8 5. Hubert
Chapter 9 Notes
To Be an Actress is a splendid opportunity to look into the heart and mind of a dedicated actor. And, incidentally, to find out what acting—even under the most stressful circumstances—is all about.
— Irene Backalenick; All About Jewish Theatre
To Be an Actress provides a glimpse into the pre-Holocaust Czech theater scene, the life of the arts in Terezin concentration camp, and the world of Israeli drama in the early years of the state. The struggle to follow one's vocation and practice one's art despite fascism, sexism, and migration is clearly delineated throughout the book. Nava Shean is an impressive person, and Michelle Fram Cohen did an admirable job of translating this work. Having been prompted by the well known Israeli novelist Nava Semel to write her memoirs, Nava Shean may not be a seasoned writer, but therein lies some of the book's charm. For those particularly interested in the place of displaced European actors in early Israeli theater culture, or those who want to better understand how theater thrived at the heart of a concentration camp, this book is extremely valuable. Nava's depiction of the attitude of the kibbutz movement toward its resident artists in the 1950s is also fascinating, as is her discussion of trying to raise her daughter as a single mother while meeting the arduous demands of her dramatic profession. I enjoyed the book and am thrilled that it is now available to an English-reading audience.
— Winnipeg Jewish Review
This unique and moving memoir was written by a woman who dreamed of becoming an actress as a child, performed regularly as a prisoner in the Terezin Ghetto, and survived to become a staple of the Israeli stage. Reading it, we witness the enormous saving and healing power of art.
— Helen Epstein, author of Where She Came From: A Daughter's Search for Her Mother's History and Children of the Holocaust