When writer/director Julie Hammond learned that Gidget, the quintessential California girl and 1950’s spark of a global surf boom, was really the Jewish daughter of Austro-Hungarian refugees, she began to imagine events in reverse. What would happen if a California-born Jew went to Central Europe to learn to surf?
Armed with an audio recorder and faith in sun and waves, Hammond travelled east in a quest to weave her surf-bum family with her grandmother’s Holocaust survival, and a hope to discover the details of her family’s silence. The resulting play, Other Inland Empires, is part travelogue, part adventure, and part meditation.
Drawing these elements together are vintage pop songs, the 1957 surf novel Gidget, moving props and scenery, and historical facts. Within this world, the Holocaust brushes up against inflatable seagulls, a lost tooth holds hands with a lost earring, and palm trees slow dance with identity politics.