"Based on the real lives of the protagonists, the play follows Gisa through
the early years of her energetic social activism, letting us enjoy her budding romance with Paul Konopka,
whom she eventually marries in real life. We also witness Gisa being captured and tolerating imprisonment by the Nazis, and
we watch her escape to freedom — aided unexpectedly at a key moment by a bystander who just as easily
could have decided to betray her.
The play is innovative in a number of ways. Just as the
story takes place on several levels, the stage itself is designed in levels, with people at the railway station looming upstage
as other action takes place at stage level closer to the audience. ..
Another innovative touch is that there are two versions
of Gisa on stage at almost all times – the younger activist Gisa and her more grown-up counterpart viewing and commenting
from the raised railway station. This adds perspective by enabling us to undergo experiences as they happen
to the younger Gisa, and yet still look back at the action from the hard-earned vantage point gained by the older Gisa.
The play is billed as a love story, and it is that. The charming deepening
relationship between Gisa and Paul satisfies our romantic thirst. Yet the play is a love story on a larger level, too —
a love for humanity, a love for the courage of people who care for others and fight for the betterment of all despite the
personal costs, in ordinary times as well as in extraordinary times.
...(A) great many of us appreciate and admire purity of spirit and mesirat
nefesh like Gisa’s, and that is one of the reasons that the play is so satisfying.
... If you like leaving a play feeling not only entertained but
also ennobled and elevated, then Silence Not, A Love Story is warmly recommended."
Center Stage, Jerusalem: Rina Kwartin, Naama Nachum
Cooper is clearly a playwright at the height of her powers. She easily balances themes of
empowerment, struggle, and equality, and raises the stakes by addressing the atrocities of the Holocaust. Rather
than take a preachy approach to such serious subject matter, Cooper uses a deft touch to incorporate historical detail
and human emotion. . .. Cooper weaves the ordinary and the political into a single braid,
showing all aspects of the resistance in a comprehensive, effortless way. Unlike many writers, who hammer away at the suffering
caused by the Nazis, Cooper lets the facts speak for themselves. The result is striking and breaks new ground in much-trodden
....Gisa is a strong, independent character, and a refreshing alternative to many of the love-reliant
female characters in contemporary theater.
Thought-provoking without being abstract, historical without being condescending, Silence Not is a
heady, beautifully written play. Worth reading several times, it strikes a lovely
balance between poetry and reality, bringing to life a diverse cast of characters in a challenging time period.
"Everyone loves a love story, especially one with a happy ending, and award-winning playwright and
journalist Cynthia L. Cooper’s latest play, a forty-four scene two-act, is a whopper. Silence Not, A Love Story
tells the improbable tale — based on a true story." It is about a man and a woman, as a prologue by Elizabeth
Holtzman explains, whose "very humanity lay in their acts of resisting evil. They could no more remain passive, removed, and
quiescent than they could stop breathing… Without those who stand up for justice, where would the rest of us be?”
"Cooper’s story is a story of courage, for all
ages, all sexes, all cultures – reminding us, that courage sees no boundaries.”
Janis F. Kearney, former Personal Diarist to President
William J. Clinton, author, Cotton Field of Dreams: A Memoir.
"This powerful play recreates in moving drama the
(anti-Nazi) struggles and the desperate attempt of good people to remain moral in the most immoral of societies. Powerful,
poignant and penetrating, it will move those who read it and cause them to ponder the sources of
courage and resistance."
Michael Berenbaum, Professor of Jewish Studies and Director
of the Sigi Zieirng Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust, American Jewish University.
“Cynthia Cooper is a powerful playwright.
Silence Not, A Love Story will spark a fabulous discussion on resistance today. Gisa and Paul have
incredible moral courage and a lifelong love that sustains them through a terrible period in history when
society failed. Each of us needs to consider our character at every moment – are we perpetrator, victim, helper,
bystander, or resister? Every high school student should read this play.”
Maureen McNeil, Director of Education, The Anne Frank
"The play, set in Germany from 1929 to 1938, revolves around a new
generation of idealists mounting a resistance to a growing right wing terrorist government.... The play examines the life
of two people caught up in situations that rub against the value of human rights."
Phil Sieratski, American Gathering Newspaper
"Almost every they were doing as part of the resistance was
dangerous, including their personal relationship - she was Jewish, he was Catholic....This play, and the lives of Peiper and
Konopka, shows us that no matter what barriers are place before us, we laways have the ability to 'overcome seemingly insurmountable
Levi Fishman, Jewish Outreach
“Rooted in early twentieth century Europe
and strikingly similar to contemporary struggles all over the globe, Cynthia Cooper’s Silence Not, A Love Story
offers readers and audiences the always necessary integration of art and politics. She’s a skillful playwright
who uses history, with its relentless examination of our lives, as a rich source for theater.”
Judith Arcana: poet, writer and scholar. She is
the author of "hat if your mother,"as well as "4th Period English,"and "Grace Paley’s Life Stories, A Literary
"This play, based on Gisa Peiper's life .... is a tribute
to an impressive personality ... The heroine's fear and her courage are conveyed strongly. The prison scene is
especially effective, together with the surprise ending."
2010: Named a Finalist for 2009 Best Book Award, Drama/Performing Arts by ForeWord Publishing.
Feb 9, 2010. Staged Reading,
St. Paul, MN. at the Wellstone Center in W.St.Paul, part of The Konopka Institute of the University of Minnesota, Celebration
of the Life and Legacy of Gisa Konopka, dinner & reception. For info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dec 2009. Justice for All Radio Show:
'Resisting Tyranny in 1929 and Today.'Listen here.
Feb 2009. Reading at the
Anne Simley Theatre, Hamline University, MN, directed by Carolyn Levy.
April 2008. Geraldine Page Center for the
Arts, NYC, coordinated by Angelica Page.
Not, A Love Story':
A young Jewish
woman and Catholic man find love and courage as they engage in resistance to the rise of Nazism in Germany in the early 1930s.In standing up for their ideals despite the dangers, they discover the importance
of self-respect, the inspiration of art and the good of humanity, managing to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles
to carry forward their beliefs.
Gisa Peiper Konopka
Notis based on the true story of Dr. Gisela Peiper Konopka (1910-2003) and her husband, Paul
Konopka. Dr.Konopka was a professor, author and international expert in child
welfare and group social work, known for her abiding sense of justice.In her
honor, the University of Minnesota established The Konopka Institute for Best Practices in Adolescent Health in 1998.
Gisa later wrote:
“(Human beings) carry in them the seeds of destruction as well as great love and giving.It will depend on us, each person within each generation at all times, what we help to bring forth.This is an unending task.”