The second feminine typology to have presented itself on our Theater J stage is best personified by another major artist who came into our lives in 2003…
Call Liz Lerman enunciator of… THE WOMAN DANCING THROUGH LIFE ON A SPIRITUAL QUEST
IN SEARCH OF GOD
IN SEARCH OF MEANING
IN SEARCH OF TRUTH
OR HER PLACE WITHIN TRADITION
CALL IT WOMAN AS THE GRAND DREAMER, GRAPPLING WITH BIG IDEAS…
Is that a capacious enough a category? Let’s try to boil it down to a single impression as we did with “bittersweet” and here the phrase is…
Liz represents the archetype of being of earth and of the sky; of mind and body; in search of God and truth within the context of the corporeal, physical present not only in her own body of work—incorporating text and dance; spiritualism and community—but by virtue of her directorial debut which she made at Theater J in 2003 (sharing the directorial reigns with Nick Olcott) on Yehuda Hyman’s THE MAD DANCERS (subtitled “A MYSTICAL COMEDY WITH ECSTATIC DANCE”) which saw us use the extraordinary actress Naomi Jacobson as a kind of feminist version of the Bal Shem Tov, the great Hassidic Rebbe who goes on a time-traveling voyage trying to rescue Elliott, a lowly data processor from his cloistered shell of a life in modern day San Francisco, drawing him toward the Kabbalistic garden where he might repair the world and become a messianic prince for the Jewish people. (Can you believe that plot?) Liz made this mystical journey come alive with dance.
And figures as various as the great philosopher Hannah Arendt as depicted in Kate Fodor’s HANNAH AND MARTIN, or the protagonist of Jeanette Buck’s THERE ARE NO STRANGERS, or Amy Ziff’s alter-ego in her zany philosophical riff about what fate awaits her either in heaven or hell in the solo piece ACCIDENT, all evince this same cosmic curiosity on a search for a kind of truth or spiritual home.
We’ll come back to those just-alluded-to examples, but let’s press on with the other typologies to get them out of the way, because we’ll be zigging and zagging from one to another for the rest of this talk as we traverse through the seasons.
And so TYPOLOGY # 3: The CONTEMPORARY WOMAN AS SUPER GIRL
or THE WOMAN OF STEEL meets THE TRADITIONAL BALABUSTA (which I take to be a yiddish riff on the Hebrew “Ba-alat Ha-abit” or “Woman of the Home” but given the ring of it, more accurately feels like “House Wife Meets Ball Buster.”)
Think WOMEN WHO KICK ASS!
Think of the traditional Jewish home where the mother has run of the household, setting things straight, making us feel both at home and on guard, insisting on being heard, paid attention to and, through it all, spreading the love (and a little bit of fear!). Now think Women Who Don’t Need Men To Make It. Think Sisters Doing It For Themselves. Think Solo Voyagers. And where we’re soon to wind up with previews this coming week, as we open Judy Gold as MOMMY QUEEREST (with the new subttile “It’s Jewdy’s Show: My Life as a Sitcom!”) which might as well be called with The New Wonder Woman Raising Family, Same As It Ever Was, Except Who the Hell Needs Daddy?
MOMMY QUEEREST culminates a long succession of Big Bold Jewish Women Behaving Bawdily, Bodaciously, and Beautifully. Let’s enjoy that procession of…
And then in part III, we’ll look at the 4th typology and move through the seasons…