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Encore performances of WALKING TOWARD AMERICA starring Annie Montgomery were presented in January, 2018, at Springfield Contemporary Theatre in Springfield, MO.  http://springfieldcontemporarytheatre.org.

WALKING TOWARD AMERICA is suitable for adult audiences and young people ages 10 and up.  

The play is about 75 minutes long.  

It is based on a true story.

ILGA as girl

Ilga at 12 years of age, in western Germany after her 500 mile trek.  She is sitting on the makeshift cart used by her parents to haul their belongings as they walked.

On the eve of a three-generational pilgrimage back to her Latvian homeland, Ilga speaks to her grandchildren about their great-grandparents. Her memories become the action of the play, all seen through her eyes at ages 4, 10 and nearly 17. At the center of her narrative is the winter of 1944–1945, when 10-year-old Ilga and her parents leave Riga, Latvia, to escape the Russian occupation of their city. Soon they are taken into a German forced-labor camp, where they spend a brutal month but fare better than the Jewish prisoners held on the other side of a barbed-wire fence. Eventually, they walk 500 miles across frozen, war-torn northern Germany, survive strafing by Russian planes and find their way to a refugee camp in western Germany. Six years later, they sail through an Atlantic storm to safety and freedom in America. What makes Ilga’s event-filled story unique and compelling is that she is a child witness to the devastation of war and the sources of strength that get her family through it. In Walking Toward America, one actress plays Ilga from grandmother to carefree 4-year-old to frightened 10-year-old to resilient teenager, plus all the characters that populate her remarkable journey. The result is an intensely personal narrative, laced with warmth, humor, courage and determination, that explores all that it means to be an ordinary family caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

For information about the published script, sample pages, and licensing: http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/walking-toward-america.



The New York production of “Walking Toward America” set a record for performances at the United Solo Festival at Theatre Row, September 24- October 17, 2015.



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Annie Montgomery played the lead role of Lisa in the Off-Broadway production of That Ilk at the Hudson Guild Theatre. She has worked in several regional theaters including Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, George Street Playhouse, The Hangar Theatre, Theatre for the Seventh Sister and The Wayside Theatre. Favorite roles include, Anne in Man and Superman, Harper in Angels in America, Grusha in The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and Raina in Arms and the Man. In the summer of 2015, she will be performing with the Piper Theatre Company in Splitfoot at the East of Edinburgh Theatre Festival, and in the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival in Scotland. She is also a founding member and co-artistic director of A Space Between Theatre Company.  She collaboratively devised, wrote and acted in their production of The Red Dress which was produced at Clemente Soto Velez Educational and Performance Center and will be produced again at University Settlement in New York City in November 2015. She is a professional teaching artist working for several organizations, such as The New Victory Theatre, Disney Theatrical Productions and Lifetime Arts. She is a member of Actor’s Equity.  New York Univeristy (MA, Educational Theatre), Boston University (BFA, Acting). For more about Annie Montgomery, see http://www.anniemeekmontgomery.com.



Dr. Montgomery has directed study abroad programs in London, Puerto Rico, Brazil and Dublin. He is the artistic director of the New Plays for Young Audiences (NPYA) series at the Provincetown Playhouse, a project where three new plays written by leading playwrights for young audiences are developed every summer. He has also directed the Looking for Shakespeare (LFS) Program, where High school students work with him and graduate students from NYU to shape an original production of Shakespeare. Other directorial credits include: Little Shop of Horrors, book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken, based on the film by Roger Corman, screenplay by Charles Griffith (2014, Program in Educational Theatre); Salvation Road by D.W. Gregory (2012, Program in Educational Theatre); (Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (2012, LFS), Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale (2011, LFS); Walking Toward America by Sandra Fenichel Asher (2012, Theatre of the Seventh Sister, Lancaster, PA and 2012 NPYA); The Giver by Eric Coble from the story by Lois Lowry (2009. Program in Educational Theatre);Nasty by Ramon Esquivel (2009, NPYA); Kindertransport by Diane Samuels (2008, Program in Educational Theatre), Stories from the Magic Lake (2006, Program in Educational Theatre) and Folktale Journey: Old Stories Told in New Ways (2004, Program in Educational Theatre). He has worked with Outlaws and Justice, an organization that infuses a dynamic interdisciplinary curriculum into middle school classrooms, using drama to help students make meaning of history and ELA, and currently sits on the Arts Education Committee of the NYC Department of Education and The Moth Education Committee.  Visit David’s webpage at http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/faculty/David_Montgomery.



Warremsburg 2015 photo

Sandra Fenichel Asher’s plays have been produced nationally and abroad; over two dozen have been published, including A Woman Called Truth, In the Garden of the Selfish Giant, and Jesse and Grace:  A Best Friends Story, all of which received the American Alliance for Theatre and Education’s Distinguished Play Award.  Sandy is also a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship grant in playwriting, the New England Theatre Conference’s Aurand Harris Award, the Joseph Campbell Memorial Award presented by The Open Eye Theater, AATE’s Charlotte Chorpenning Award for a distinguished body of work in children’s theatre, and an Aurand Harris Fellowship grant from the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America.  Her work has been selected for the Kennedy Center’s New Visions/New Voices Symposium, the Indiana Repertory Theatre/Bonderman National Playwriting Symposium, and NYU’s New Plays for Young Audiences workshop at the Provincetown Playhouse.  Sandy is also the author of 25 books for young readers and editor of five fiction anthologies.  Six of her plays are featured in Tell Your Story: The Plays and Playwriting of Sandra Fenichel Asher (Dramatic Publishing).  Sandy is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  Visit Sandy’s website at http://sandyasher.com.


*Annie Montgomery appears courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association.




Natalie Burgess was featured as Ilga in the first public reading, June 11 and 12, 2011, at the Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village as part of New York University’s New Plays for Young Audiences workshop.  Directed by David Montgomery.


Patricia Van Tassel as Ilga in the world premiere production, May 24 – June 3, 2012, at The Open Eye Theater, Margaretville, NY.  Directed by Amie Brockway.


Ilga Katais-Paeglis Vise, actor Annie Montgomery, and playwright Sandra Fenichel Asher during an audience talk back session after a reading at the Library Center, Springfield, MO, July, 2012.




  1. Mary Orth Vise · March 8, 2015

    I know Ilga Katais-Paeglis Vise. In fact she is my sister-in-law. I was born in Hungary, left Hungary in 1943, dodged bombs along the way, making it to Osterode, Germany where we lived for 4 years.We were called D.P.’s (Displaced Persons) My father was a Hungarian reformed minister plus a poet. His poetry somehow landed in the hands of a colleague of his from Lethbridge, Saskatchewan, Canada. Rev. Kalman Toth and his congregation sponsored us to come live in Canada. Besides living in Alberta for about two years my father was called to be a bi-lingual minister in Kipling, Saskatchewan where we spent eight years before leaving for Niles, Ohio, a suburb of Youngstown.


    • Sandy Asher · March 8, 2015

      That is a remarkable story, Mary. Thank you for stopping by the website. Perhaps we’ve met at some time? My husband and I lived in Springfield, MO, for 36 years, which is where we became friends with Ilga and Sidney.


  2. Julia Padanyi Severens · March 10, 2015

    Ilga and I lived in the same dorm at Northwestern University. It was there we discovered our somewhat similar childhood experiences. My father had been an architect and also a member of Parliament (elected from a Budapest district) in Hungary. His views were in disfavor with the pro-Nazi leadership as well as with the Communist regime that followed. Our trek from Hungary to a Bavarian village was shorter and less harrowing than Ilga’s, nevertheless filled with dangers and uncertainties. Eventually we were sponsored to come to the USA because my father’s language and architectural skills promised quick adjustment and self-sufficiency. We are greatly indebted to all in Billings, MT, who welcomed us and helped fulfill those expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandy Asher · March 10, 2015

    Delighted to hear from you, Julia! Ilga has often mentioned you. Thank you so much for posting your family’s story.


  4. Joyce Pyle · March 15, 2015

    This is a remarkable play. Ilga’s journey is a compelling story, and Sandy has captured it beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Julie Bohl · April 19, 2015

    Looking forward to the 4th performance in Sept. Lolita Albers of Springfield, MO, is a close friend who told us the play is about her friend, Ilga. My cousins have a similar story escaping Communist Romania in 1950, leaving Sanktandres, the small town my grandparents left in the early 1900s (when it was in Hungary).


    • Sandy Asher · April 19, 2015

      Thank you so much for sharing your family’s story, Julie, and for joining us. I’ll look forward to seeing you at the Festival.


      • Barbara Manzo · May 25, 2015

        I only wish more people would share their stories of WWII.and the Holocaust.. The next generation has to be made aware of this devastation. We need the shoulders of the survivors who came before us. I hope academia is aware of this and offering courses especially during middle, high and college levels.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sandy Asher · May 25, 2015

        I totally agree with you, Barbara. But when I offered “Walking Toward America” to a prominent children’s theater director, he brushed it off with, “The schools aren’t teaching WWII much anymore.” And so, we continue to tell the stories where and when we can, as best we can!


  6. Do North · August 27, 2015

    Chicago is a great theatre town. Bring the play here!


    • Sandy Asher · August 27, 2015

      Would love to, and have approached a couple of folks, but, so far, no takers!


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