The room is dark except for a bright light that shines down on the stage at Mulberry Grove Recreation Center.
An emotional trial takes place onstage — it is a trial of the judicial system of the Third Reich and the crimes against humanity it committed during World War II. It is the exposure of the entire country of Germany. It is “Judgment at Nuremberg.”
The play, based on real cases from the Nuremberg Trials, is The Villages Theater Company’s summer drama this year.
Steve Rubin, of the Village of Woodbury, felt that there wasn’t enough theatrical drama in The Villages, so he pitched the idea to The Villages Theater Company.
This is the group’s fourth season of dramas under Rubin’s direction.
“Judgment at Nuremberg” is a show Rubin has been wanting to do for a long time.
“It’s a part of not only American history, but world history,” Rubin said. “It happened, and it’s important that everybody knows it and that we all keep our awareness of the atrocities that went on in the past. And history has a tendency to repeat itself.”
Another purpose of the play is to show the humanity involved, said Lynne Greenberger, a Village of Buttonwood resident who plays the role of Maria Wallner in the play.
“The judges were following and applying written law,” Greenberger said. “They were doing their duty to their country, as they found it to be. A lot of people viewed this particular trial as a trial of Germany as a whole.”
Though the show is emotionally heavy, Rubin said it has been very enjoyable to work on. He made sure to cast both experienced and inexperienced actors so that it would be a learning process for everyone.
“I like to work with the actors to get their characters out, so there’s an emotional feeling between the character they’re playing and the audience,” Rubin said. “I like directing and I love seeing it all come together.”
Jack Filkins, of the Village of Hadley, is one of the more experienced actors in the show. He plays the role of Oscar Rolfe.
Filkins said doing the show has given him a fulfilling experience as an actor.
“There are some moments for a performer when you truly feel like you’re in the zone onstage with another performer,” Filkins said. “Those are the moments, for me, that are most important about this creative experience.”
Coincidentally, Greenberger and Filkins have known each other since high school. In fact, the first time they performed together onstage was during their school production of “West Side Story.”
Working on “Judgment at Nuremberg” has been intense, Greenberger said.
“Every week, we get together and we get our hearts wrenched a little,” she joked.
The cast hopes seeing this show will help residents diversify their theater experience.
“The opportunity to perform in a straight up psychological drama is infrequent in The Villages,” Filkins said. “Most production companies in The Villages, understandably so, will present a lighthearted romantic comedy. And those are fun too, but I think it’s important to be able to represent a different offering and be engaged in it.”
Let the cast of “Judgment at Nuremberg” take you in and engage you in some history and drama.
“It’s a wonderful show, and it’s based on truth,” Greenberger said. “The lines in this show are taken directly from the Nuremberg Trials. It’s also evidence of the wonderful talent we have in The Villages.”
The show will be performed at 2 p.m. July 27 and 30 and at 7 p.m. July 28-29 at Mulberry Grove Recreation Center, 8445 SE 165th Mulberry Lane.
Tickets, which are $5, will be sold at the door on a first-come, first-served basis 30 minutes before each show. Audience members must have a Villages or Guest ID.
Kristen Fiore is a senior staff writer with The Villages Daily Sun. She can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5270, or [email protected].