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The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund (the DLDF”) announced emergency support for the upcoming presentation of Danielle Wirsansky’s new musical, The Secrets We Keep.

Written by Danielle Wirsansky, a PhD candidate at Florida State University, and Frank Sanchez, The Secrets We Keep had rented space for a four-performance presentation at the American Theatre of Actors from May 23-26. Due to the subject matter of the piece, the experiences of a Jewish Polish woman during the Holocaust, the team was eager to have a discussion about safety at the theatre for cast and audience members. A plan was put in place with the facility’s director, James Jennings, and then immediately rescinded and the production cancelled by the theatre due to their concerns about presenting a play with Jewish themes that arose from the theatre’s insurance company. 

This abrupt cancellation is an explicit breach of the contract agreement made between the theatre and Wirsansky and caused a severe financial hardship for the production, due to the last minute need for a new performance space and the associated increased cost. In line with the DLDF’s mission to combat censorship across the country, the organization’s board unanimously voted to grant the production the funds needed to remount the production in another space. The Secrets We Keep will now run from May 23-26 at The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater at The West Side YMCA (10 W. 64th Street).

“We were shocked to learn of the theater’s breach of contract, denying this author the stage she rented because of the fear that a play with Jewish themes was too dangerous, even a play that has nothing to do with Israel,” shared DLDF Executive Director Ralph Sevush. “In light of their cowardly capitulation to anti-Semitism and the complete lack of credible threats against the production, we felt it was more dangerous for the show and the creative forces behind it to be silenced by fear.”

Danielle Wirsansky, as part of the Elie Wiesel Social Action Fellowship, is spearheading the creation and production of the compelling musical, in partnership with White Mouse Theatre Productions, aimed at Holocaust education and countering anti-Semitism. Having conducted thorough research and completed the initial writing phase, the musical debuted with a concert at Common Ground Books, a cherished local LGBTQ+ and feminist bookstore, in October 2023, and then had performances at the Lab Theatre at Florida State University in April 2024.

Synopsis: In the mystical realm of the rusalki, a Jewish Polish woman, tragically taken during the Holocaust and turned into a rusalka, discovers an unexpected chance for revenge when she befriends a young woman who unknowingly carries the bloodline of her murderer. As she grapples with her desire for vengeance, she must confront the depths of her own humanity and the power of forgiveness, navigating the blurred lines between good and evil, and finding solace in the delicate balance between redemption and the eternal quest for justice. This poignant and evocative musical weaves together themes of loss, resilience, and the enduring strength of the human spirit.

The performance schedule is as follows: Thursday May 23 at 8pm, Friday May 24 at 8pm, Saturday May 25 at 8pm and Sunday May 26 at 2pm. Tickets are available now.

The Dramatists Guild Legal Defense Fund (DLDF) was established by The Dramatists Guild of America to advocate and educate on behalf of the right of free speech on stages across America. The DLDF believes in more speech, not less, and that there should be discussion about why a theatrical work is complex instead of cancelling a production. If your school show has been cancelled, the DLDF can help you figure out your options for moving forward. The DLDF can find alternative spaces where students can perform cancelled shows, send authors of cancelled shows to the community for a panel discussion, send letters to schools and town officials encouraging them to remount cancelled shows, find legal assistance for those who want to take the matter to court, and more. Visit to find resources and how you can join the fight against censorship. Because words matter.

Since its inception in 1919, the Dramatists Guild of America has been the professional association for playwrights, librettists, lyricists, and composers writing for the American stage. With over 10,000 members around the world, the Guild is guided by a governing council of writers who each give their time, interest and support to advance the rights of dramatists everywhere, including the right for dramatists to own and control their own copyrighted work. The Guild’s advocacy, programs, events, publications, and other services provide dramatists with the resources, the community, and the support they require to protect their property, their livelihoods, and their unique voices in the American theatre.


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