FRINGE 2017: 'Where There Were Woods'

This show is a solo piece beautifully written and performed by Samara Lerman getting its world premiere at Cincinnati’s 2017 Fringe Festival

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“I am the last of the line, the final branch of the family tree. Grandma’s ghost visits regularly. Grandma asks, ‘Who will remember me?’” Thus begins Where There Were Woods, a solo piece beautifully written and performed by Samara Lerman getting its world premiere at Cincinnati’s 2017 Fringe Festival.

The promotional write-up accurately describes Lerman’s show: “The true survival story of a fierce young Jewish woman is interwoven with the traditional Jewish folktales Samara’s grandmother told her as a child. Traveling from the swampy forests of the Ukraine to the streets of Uzbekistan in the 1930s, Where There Were Woods is a story of courage, loss, and the power of storytelling.”

Lerman is a Seattle-based actor, writer and educator. A theater arts graduate of University of California Santa Cruz, she has worked with the Seattle Shakespeare Company, Theater Schmeater Performance Art Theatre and Book-It, a regional theater in Seattle devoted to “transforming great literature into great theatre,” according to its website. Lerman will soon be seen in the independent film Iron, a 2017 period drama set in the Pacific Northwest, “inspired by the true stories of woman railroad workers during the early 1900s.” 

Her talent and experience show in Where There Were Woods as she convincingly segues from present-day English to her grandmother’s Polish-Yiddish dialect to the Slavic languages of the various characters in the show. According to webs.com, Lerman is “drawn to characters who listen and find strength through vulnerability.” She expertly captures these traits in her Where There Were Woods portrayals. Her graceful movements embody the characters. Kudos to Lerman and Where There Were Woods director Kelly Kitchens, interim artistic director of Seattle Public Theater. 

A salute to sound designer Brendan Patrick Hogan, as well, whose credits include ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) in Seattle. In the Memorial Hall lower level studio space, Lerman and Hogan often have to compete with the singing and dancing by another Fringe production upstairs. Don’t let this deter you. Where There Were Woods is not to be missed.


The CINCINNATI FRINGE FESTIVAL continues through June 11. Find CityBeat reviews of 40-plus early performances here. For a full schedule and more info about Fringe, visit cincyfringe.com.

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