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'There's An Immortality To Theater': Ed Asner, Jeff Cohen Talk 'Soap Myth,' Holocaust Remembrance

Ed Asner performs in a reading of "The Soap Myth." May 2, 2019.
Holocaust Museum & Learning Center

As a seven-time Emmy Award winner, Ed Asner is in a position to choose almost any project that he wants. So it might surprise some to learn that what Asner wants to do right now is travel the country performing in readings of the play “The Soap Myth.

The play tells the story of Milton Saltzman, a Holocaust survivor on a mission to have historians accept the Nazi production of soap from Jewish victims. Asner, who joined Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air ahead of a reading at Congregation Temple Israel, explained that he felt like the perfect person to take on the role.

“I come from the generation that the play's about,” he said. “I'll be 90 in November, and it seems like everything that has happened to me in that 90 years serves as feeder for what I need to play the character.”

That performance at Congregation Temple Israel is part of a whole week of programs presented by the congregation and the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center in honor of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Jeff Cohen, the show’s playwright, said that as the generations that lived through the Holocaust begin to age, plays like his can be one way to hold on to the memory of those survivors and what they lived through.

“As the survivors are dying off, there's an immortality to the theater,” he said. “So when an actor like Ed Asner plays the role of Milton Saltzman, for that 90 minutes that person, that character is alive. Five years from now, 10 years from now, 500 years from now, when an actor plays that role, for 90 minutes he's still alive. And he won't let the world forget what happened to him.”

Listen to the full conversation:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. “St. Louis on the Air” producers Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan andJon Lewis give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Jon Lewis was the production intern at St. Louis Public Radio from January to May 2019. Originally from Pelham, New York, Jon came to St. Louis to attend Washington University in 2015. Previously, Jon has interned for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Eight by Eight, a soccer magazine based in Brooklyn.

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