Asner stars in ‘Soap Myth’


Jeff Cohen had a clear mission in writing “The Soap Myth,” a play set a half century after World War II.

“To say that it is of paramount importance that the history of the Holocaust be kept to the forefront of society, that it not be forgotten, that it be studied, and the lessons of the Holocaust are things we can use to present genocide in the future,” Cohen said. “Holocaust denial is a tactic used by anti-Semitic people, who want to eradicate this notion of this attempt to exterminate Jews from history. They will use any tactic they can, including what I call pseudo-history. It’s fake history that the Holocaust didn’t happen, or those things happened or those things didn’t.”

The Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis, with support of the National Bank of Indianapolis, will present “The Soap  Myth” at 7:30 p.m. April 30 at the Palladium at The Center for Performing Arts Center in Carmel.

Seven-time Emmy winner Ed Asner, famous for his role as Lou Grant on the “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” plays a Holocaust survivor who said the Nazis experimented with making soap from human body fat from Jewish concentration camp victims.

Cohen points out a character who is a Holocaust denier concedes maybe a few thousand Jews died but that doesn’t mean millions died.

“It’s a tactic to literally eradicate what happened from the history books,” Cohen said. “Unfortunately, that aspect of my play is more timely than when I wrote it because we have people who are very effective at lying, having alternate facts and calling what they don’t like fake news. Just because you don’t like the fact that Nazis were almost successful of exterminating an entire group of people from the face of the earth doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.”

The play is presented as a reading, so Asner, 89, doesn’t have to memorize his many lines.

“Three years ago, we were invited to do a reading at Lincoln Center Library. It seemed liked a great opportunity to see if my favorite actor might be interested in being a part of it,” Cohen said. “I took the opportunity to reach out to Ed Asner and somehow got him to read it. We flew him into New York and he was brilliant, as we knew he would be. He’s been a part of it ever since.”

Cohen said Asner has helped give his play exposure it wouldn’t receive without him.

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