When I was eight years old I saw a play on Broadway called The Miracle Worker. It was based on the true story of Helen Keller and starred Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft. They both went on to win Oscars for their performances in the film version. The Miracle Worker tells the story of how a young, seeing impaired teacher helped a blind and deaf six year old to understand language. When the curtain fell I remember quivering in my seat, unable to speak.
After I graduated from high school I left Detroit, were I was raised, and moved east to train as an actress at Circle in the Square theater school and with renowned acting coach, Lee Strasberg.
Gitta Mallasz's book came into my life in 1982. I was living off the grid in London at the time, completely immersed in a Gurdjieff community. Synchronicities, in the Jungian sense of the word, were a daily occurrence yet I had never heard of the term 'channeling'. I was skeptical. The book was riveting.
I begin a writing an adaptation of it for the stage in 1999 and by 2000, a nine character version won 'Best" at the San Francisco Fringe Festival.
Later that year I went to Switzerland and met the book's publisher, Robert Hinshaw, who said he was impressed with the online reviews from the festival. He encouraged me to keep developing Talking with Angels for the stage and showed me over three hours of videos he'd made with Gitta just before she died; she was describing her experience in English (her fifth language).
Based on the success in San Francisco and with fresh images of Gitta in my mind, I streamlined Talking with Angels into the solo show that it is now. --It premiered at the Milagro Theater in NYC on September 19th, 2001. Barbara Valocore, of the Lifebridge Foundation, offered funding to develop the project. -As it stands now, I've performed it over 400 times at salons and festivals throughout the USA and Europe. SM
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The metaphysical experience they shared defined Gitta's later life. Once she published Talking with Angels she continued sharing her experience with others who were interested in metaphysics and transcendence. Throughout the 1980s she lectured in many cities in Europe and had a strong impact on thousands of people.
It was very important to Gitta that Talking with Angels not become "yet another animal in the New Age zoo", and that people seeking truth within its message cherish and preserve their own independent voice and will. More details about Gitta Mallasz and Hanna Dallos and examples of their art work can be found here.
In the genre of Holocaust memoir, TWA is on a par with MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING by Victor Frankl and THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK.
The story unfolds around Gitta Mallasz's courageous attempt to save her three Jewish friends and over 100 women and children from deportation. As commander in charge of a garment factory making military uniforms, she was successful in saving everyone, except her friends.
Gitta Mallasz survived the war and in 1960 smuggled their precious diaries into France. The dialogues were first published in 1976 as Dialogue avec L’Ange and immediately became a bestseller, but the the book in its original language (Az Angyal Vàlaszol) was banned by the Communist régime in Hungary until 1991.
In recognition of Gitta Mallasz's courageous acts, Yad Vashem museum in Israel posthumously honored her in 2012 as Righteous Among Nations.
"She's the real deal!" SEAN PENN
"Mitchell's consummate skill as a performer illuminates this thoughtful combination of human bravery and the divine."
IRISH THEATRE MAGAZINE
Shelley Mitchell and Patty Duke
Schindler's List meets
My Dinner with Andre
The play begins in London, 1991, a year before Gitta Mallasz died. She is about to give her last talk to a group of about 200 people who've come to hear her describe in detail the experience she and her friends had communicating with what appeared to them at the time as angels. The 90 minute play is based on the original transcripts and Gitta's description of the circumstances they were in during the Nazi occupation of Hungary.
Click here or on the image if you would like to purchase the book.
"The portrait of Mallasz is a tour de force!" SAN FRANCISCO WEEKLY
In her mid-twenties she got interested in art again and contacted her old friend, Hanna Dallos, in an effort to reconnect to her creativity. They eventually set up a successful graphic design studio. They had a shared interest in philosophy and human potential, and during their late twenties and early thirties spent much of their free time exploring the psychology of eastern philosophies and sacred texts.
Gitta Mallasz was born into a military family in Austria in 1907. She moved to Hungary when she was 15 years old and met Hanna Dallos when they were students together in high school . They lost track of each other after graduation. Gitta became a long distance swimming champion and enjoyed the perks of being a famous athlete in Hungary.
Olympic Athlete, Graphic Artist