A Wall Apart to debut at the Grand Theatre

Dr. Sam Goldstein Play A Wall Apart

In May 2015 Craig Clyde, Graham Russell and I set out on an artistic journey culminating in our rock musical, A Wall Apart. Our musical features a soaring score of original songs by Graham, founder of the acclaimed rock group “Air Supply,” His score, coupled with an equally powerful story by Craig and I, has been hailed as a “show we love” by and described by the New York Times as a “smart, high energy exercise in idealism”.

With scars from one war, three brothers in East Berlin in 1961 face another as the Berlin Wall divides their city — East from West. One an officer, another an artist and the third brother caught in the middle. The brothers experience the erection of the “wall”, each from his own perspective. As they strive to find their way, three generations of family ties, brotherhood, love, marriage and parenthood are profoundly tested over twenty-eight years. What is the price of liberty? And will this wall divide or unite the family?

A Wall Apart Cast photo

Though we try not to be, we are frightened by difference. We aren’t always open to new ideas and often aggressively defend ourselves from that which we fear. As a nine-year-old child I spent the summer of 1961 on the playgrounds and shores of Brighton Beach. Each night at the dinner table I listened to my father, a man who’d lost his entire family in the Holocaust, remind me that the Russians were dangerous. In fact, he believed they were far more dangerous than the Nazis because they possessed “the bomb”. Once a week my father’s fears were reinforced as I crouched under my elementary school desk during my school’s “duck-and-cover” air raid drills. But the Cold War, thousands of miles away in Berlin, was far from my awareness. It was a story in the news but little more.

My co-author Craig Clyde was five years older and viewed this time in history from a very different perspective. Would he eventually have to fight the Communists? Like most adolescents in 1961, he worried about the aggression and possible catastrophic outcome of an East/West confrontation. Would “the bomb” become the only outcome of his young life? No one knew. Not for sure. And fear of the unknown is more frightening than the reality of that “wall” so far away in East Germany.

Our musical partner Graham Russell grew up in Europe. He was even closer to the division once it came to Germany. Like so many of us, his life was shaped and molded by what the Berlin Wall eventually came to stand for — oppression and subjugation. Though his future would be shaped by his music, he too was concerned what that “wall” of concrete and steel would mean in his homeland.

We all grew up with the Berlin Wall and, as we grew into adulthood, the “wall” grew also. Though a powerful symbol of oppression, it existed for so many years that - as with anything - we who were not there, eventually forgot about it. Still, for the people of Berlin and the nation of Germany, the “wall” was far from forgotten. As the years passed it grew into an outrage that would become a schism between the haves and have nots, democracy and socialism. And the repugnant symbol of the separation of families. By 1989 it had been rebuilt and reinforced dozens of times. Ironically by its end, it was guarded on both sides by young men who weren’t even born when the first barbed wire was rolled out in 1961.

A Wall Apart Cast photo

Art provides an opportunity to explore and challenge our fears and differences. The stage offers a laboratory for change. Music evokes our emotions and together they can, and do, voice important lessons. We must choose to listen. It is our responsibility to learn from events such as the Berlin Wall. We encourage you to hear the words, music, and story of this time in history. Embrace your emotions and join us as we all try to chart a path toward a better understanding of one another; as we endeavor to learn from our past; as we work to ultimately shape a better future for ourselves and our families. Perhaps we can make the legacy of the Berlin Wall one of life rather than violence. Hope rather than despair. Love rather than hate.

Please join on at the Grand Theatre on the Salt Lake Community college campus from August 14th through September 7th for the world premiere of our musical, A Wall Apart. Tickets are reasonably priced and available online at