Holocaust-Themed Play Comes to Chicago

A poignant look at a Jewish man and a gay man who lived and worked side by side at Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany in 1941 stands at the center of the plot of ‘Timekeepers,’ an Israeli play that will show in Chicago for three days next week.

Roy Horovitz (right) with Pinhas Mittelman in The Timekeepers

A Wider Bridge caught up with Roy Horovitz, who plays one of the two main characters. “I play Hans, a gay German who was arrested and imprisoned at Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp in Berlin,” Horovitz says. “Hans is ‘a classic survivor’ who knows how to maneuver in any situation, full of life, ‘larger than life,’ very campy.”

Horovitz co-stars in the play alongside Pinhas Mittelman, and Omer Etzion, and says that the work on this role has been fascinating for him. “Among other things, I watched the chilling documentary ‘Paragraph 175,’ which brings the story of gay prisoners in the Nazi camps, where they were forced to wear the pink triangle badge and go through horrible torture and humiliation,” Roy says. “At Sachsenhausen, they did monstrous medical experiments on them, castration without anesthesia and other atrocities. What really helped me was the fact that the play, despite the issues it deals with, is spiced with some humor.”

Though Horovitz is gay himself, he admits that this was “never an issue” for him, which is probably part of the advancement for the LGBT community in Israel in recent years.

“Israel (and especially Tel Aviv)is really a rare paradise of openness and acceptance”, Horovitz says. “Unlike what is happening with our neighbor countries, this is truly an island of sanity that is blessed in this sense. The great achievement of past years for the community is its visibility in the Israeli Knesset. One MK came out in public, and even the Likud-right wing ruling party, which is relatively conservative, has an LGBT caucus, whose leader, Amir Ohana, was elected to the Knesset.”

“The Timekeepers” premiered in Tel Aviv in 2002 and has toured Israel and been performed around the world in both its Hebrew and English versions to sold out audiences. The character of Hans was written especially for Roy. “The director of the play, Lee Gilat, and I have worked together in the past on another play, and she summoned me to the role without an audition,” he admits. “To our great satisfaction, the show has become an international hit, and won rave reviews. We often perform around the world, representing Israeli theater at many festivals. So far, we’ve toured the US, Canada, South Africa, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, England, Greece, Ireland, Scotland, Bosnia and the Netherlands.”

“The Timekeepers,” a play by Dan Clancy, May 9, 10, 11, 7:30 pm At Windy City Playhouse 3014 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago. Buy tickets