Emerging playwright Graciela Berger Wegsman found her journalistic background an unexpected and helpful tool in writing her play, “Memory is a Culinary Affair,” which wrapped up its three-performance run at Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s SummerFest on August 21. “It really helped with the research aspect of it,” said Wegsman, who contributed to the New York Daily News, Lilith Magazine, and several Spanish-language publications before turning her attention to theater.
In addition to preparing Wegsman for the countless hours of research for the heavily historical “Memory,” her journalism training aided her as the producer and press agent for her new work. Wegsman had to tackle both of those roles on her own, a testament to the all-encompassing effort needed to get a new play off the ground.
Part domestic drama and part historical document, “Memory Is a Culinary Affair” recounts the impact of Argentina’s Dirty War (1976-1983) on one Jewish family, forced to escape abroad amid threats of torture and incarceration. The central character, Carina, is now living in New York City and is haunted by the memory of her mother, a casualty of dictator Jorge Rafael Videla’s concentration camps. Central to the proceedings is the plight of the Children of the Disappeared (the Desaparecidos) — young people stolen from their families or born into imprisonment during Videla’s dictatorship, many of whom are still unaccounted for.