Winner of the Village Voice/Obie Best Play of the Year and Drama Desk Best-Solo-Performance awards, The Syringa Tree is a personal, deeply evocative story of an abiding love between two South African families, one black, one white, and the two children that are born into their shared household in the 1960's. Their stories, told through the lives of 6-year-old Elizabeth Grace and 23 other characters -- all played in this production by playwright and role originator Pamela Gien -- span four generations, from the beginnings of apartheid to present-day South Africa. Through turn-on-a-dime transformations, the play reveals the complexities of the world--and the humanity--shared by characters who are black, white, old, young, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Zulu, English, and Jewish. Gien wrote the play as a reflection of her own life and coming of age in South Africa.
The proceeds from this performance are a major component of a year-long initiative by Congregation Kol Ami, supported by local civic and religious groups, to raise $100,000 to build a Family Enrichment Center in Khayelitsha, South Africa.