Writer/actor Moti Buchboot’s Hungarian grandmother died in 1995. It was not until 2006 when he got five pieces of paper with background information from the Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Center that he learned what his Savta lived through during World War II. She rarely spoke of it to her family after she resettled in Israel. Buchboot had wanted to do something with his grandmother’s story but he did not know how to approach it or have an intense need to do it until the White Supremacist/Nazi march in Charlottesville in 2017.
The result is the current World Premiere of his one-man show Five Pieces of Paper at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Buchboot tells the story of his grandmother, a baker, who always had a sweet for him, to his father’s consternation. He tells the story through words and songs—including “My Yiddishe Momme”—using costumes, slides, newsreels and puppets. While telling her story, Buchboot also bakes (on a hot plate) Savta’s Chocolate Coconut Cake. The recipe is included in the program but the smell of the baking chocolate has the audience salivating in their seats. Luckily they each receive a piece at the show’s conclusion.
Five Pieces of Paper is a heartfelt love letter from a grandson to a grandmother who for the most part remained a mystery to him as a young boy. His show needs more moments like the puppet Savta telling of some of the atrocities she witnessed at Auschwitz. Even though it is depressing to hear and many others have told similar tales, Savta’s Hungarian experience has not been as overexposed. Even though the Hungarian government did not deport their Jews until they were actually invaded by the Germans in 1944, of nearly 40 family members only Savta and one brother survived the Holocaust. Less props and costumes (at one point Buchboot dons motorcycle goggles and glasses as shown in a photo of one of his grandfathers but he keeps them on for barely a moment) and more stories. Or baked goods and recipes.