Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Pacific Theatre presents
a one-woman-show by Libby Skala
Sep 22 – Oct 7
previews Sep 18 & 19
731-5518 /

The story of Lilia Skala, star of the Austrian stage forced to flee the rise of Nazism because of her Jewish heritage – told by her grand-daughter, New York actress Libby Skala.

Ian Farthing recommended this piece to me after working with Libby at a Shakespeare Festival in Ontario. He loved the show, thought it would be perfect for Pacific Theatre, and raved the actress's performance. I read the script and had to agree that it would be wonderful on our stage, a love-letter to the world of theatre and a quiet testimony to the power of faith in the face of trial and tragedy. But it was the reviews that clinched it – raves from Robert Enright at the CBC, Bruce Weber at the New York Times, Jonathan Wilson at The Scotsman, and so on, and so on.

I'll say no more, but let the reviews speak for themselves.


Robert Enright, Arts and Entertainment Critic

"The real winner for me was this play called LILIA! by Libby Skala about her grandmother, the woman who [was nominated for] the Academy Award for Lilies of the Field. This is probably one of the best performances I've seen at the Fringe. Absolutely dazzling acting. Her ability to transform herself from her ninety-year-old grandmother into herself as a child, and as a young child moving right through being a mature woman is absolutely magical and alchemical. I really can't believe that she does it with no props. She simply does it by shifting her weight and her face almost changes from being that old woman to a young girl.

"It is a riveting performance and she's only got one left. You've got to go and see that. If you have any other play that you're seeing today, don't bother seeing it. Go and see this one. It's an opportunity that you won't get often. Brilliant play!"


New York Times
Enter One Actor, Cloaked in Magic

Ms. Skala (Libby, that is) does a marvelous rendition, in an
evocative Middle European patois, of her grandmother's velveteen,
old world charm that sheaths a steel will. … because they are true to life, they ring especially true tribute to her grandmother
and poignant. Over all an adoring portrait is created here: Lilia Skala comes across as a singular and interesting woman. Libby Skala is a composed actress who handles the tiny stage floor at the Abingdon with great comfort, and she is magnetic in a part that clearly means the world to her.


Summer Productions Shine
Libby Skala channels her grandmother in 'Lilia'


…The high bar of performing excellence is more than met by Libby Skala, who, in "Lilia!," enacts her own grandmother, Viennese actress Lilia Skala, with an uncanny blend of transformative force and ravishing charm that is nothing less than uncanny.

On a bare stage, the actress creates her grandmother's entire world through the chimerical power of her voice and facial expressions. The audience, mere inches away from her in the tiny space, is enthralled.

She delightfully evokes the rich mannerisms and irresistible coquettishness of other Viennese legends like Elisabeth Bergner and Luise Rainer;. When I mentioned this to her, Skala confessed she had never seen either of these actresses, both of whom knew her grandmother. Talk about acting as pure channeling!


Jonathan Wilson

Lilia! by Libby Skala
Rating: 4 stars (out of 4)

This is a unique and often spellbinding production. Even, if you have never heard of Lilia Skala, you need not worry, you'll know her well at the end of this riveting play. The story sweeps across the dramatic events which shaped Lilia Skala's life, and uses the intimate conversations between grandmother and granddaughter to reveal how experience forges the mind. Lilia Skala, an accomplished actress, was forced to flee Austria under Nazi rule. She arrived in the US with no spoken English and re-established her career, culminating in Oscar recognition, despite years as an impoverished factory worker.

The play is remarkable because it is unthinkable that any other actor could play the role. The happy coincidence of an uncannily accurate impersonation, and the unsentimental eyewitness accuracy of the playwright/actress, have created a play of tremendous candour which is at once appealing and a privilege to view. Libby Skala flits between a range of characters with rock-solid technique and we are somehow better off for the intense focus of this single player, rather than an ensemble cast. The interplay of characters is often painful and intimate. Somehow, I feel grateful for the experience and not a little inclined to marvel at the diminutive lead's exhausting concentration.


And the full text of 25 more rave reviews over here

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