Staging Dialogue at Theater J – Conclusion & End Notes

from Staging Dialogue at Theater J: Negotiating Israeli Politics in Jewish Communal Encounters  by Elliot Leffler, University of Minnesota

Conclusion

In this investigation, I have tried to highlight not only the texts of Theater J’s productions, but also the metatexts and  relational aesthetics of these events, revealing no polemic agenda to either “denigrate  [or] undermine Israel’s  legitimacy.”  Rather, the metatext that gets generated orally (in post-show discussions) and electronically (on the blog) largely reveals a frank conversation, inspired by the emotional “claim” of the characters on stage, through which audiences express productive dissent as they wrestle with particularist and universal approaches to Israeli policy in a face-to-face encounter.

The expanding representation of Israel in the Jewish-American theatre over the past three decades suggests that there is an increasing desire for such a dialogue.  However, the existing structures for communal dialogue seem unable to channel it effectively: our major national institutions generally adopt dogmatic positions, synagogues and other ritual spaces largely evade such controversy to preserve a sense of “communitas,” and online spaces, which fail to nurture the ethical relationships of face-to-face encounters, erupt in angry, overstated, rhetoric.  Theater J is attempting something quite radical… they are using theatre to promote face-to-face, multivocal community dialogue in which American Jews can continually reassess how to negotiate their particularist identification with the State of Israel vis-à-vis their American, universalist concerns for human rights, national rights, and the fundamental equality of all people.

Works Cited

About Theater J. (n.d.). Theater J. Retrieved from http://washingtondcjcc.org/center-for-arts/theater-j/about-us/about-us-main-page.html

About Tikkun Magazine. (n.d.). Tikkun. Retrieved from http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/about

Beinart, P. (2010, June 10). The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment. New York Review of Books. Retrieved from http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jun/10/failure-american-jewish-establishment/

Bial, H. (2005). Acting Jewish: negotiating ethnicity on the American stage & screen. University of Michigan Press.

Bourriaud, N. (2007). Relational Form. In Petra Kuppers and Gwen Robertson (Eds.), The Community Performance Reader. London and New York: Routledge.

Cohen, A. P. (1985). The symbolic construction of community. Psychology Press.

COPMA: Citizens Opposed to Propoganda Masquerading as Art. (2010, March 10). Press Release: Community Members call on Jewish Federation to Stop Supporting Groups that Delegitimize and Demonize Israel.

Davis, C. (1996). Levinas: an introduction. University of Notre Dame Press.

Edmondson, L. (2009). Genocide Unbound: Erik Ehn, Rwanda, and an Aesthetics of Discomfort. Theatre Jouranal, 61(1), 65-83.

Furman, A. (1997). Israel through the Jewish-American imagination: a survey of Jewish-American literature on Israel, 1928-1995. SUNY Press.

Goldberg, J. (2009, March 25). Caryl Churchill: Gaza’s Shakespeare, or Fetid Jew-Baiter? Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2009/03/caryl-churchill-gaza-apos-s-shakespeare-or-fetid-jew-baiter/9823/#more

Goodman, A. (2011, February 1). As HAIFA Closes and We Revel in its Succes, We Return to the Panels and Unfinished Busniess. The Theater J Blog. Retrieved from https://theaterjblogs.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/as-haifa-closes-and-we-revel-in-its-success-we-return-to-the-panels-and-unfinished-business/

Kramer, M. (1982, October 18). American Jews and Israel: The Schism. New York Magazine, 28-32.

Kuftinec. (2009). Gay Muslims and Salty Meat Pies: The Limits of Performing Community. Political performances: theory and practice. Rodopi.

Kuftinec, S. (2005). Staging America: Cornerstone and Community-Based Theater. SIU Press.

Kushner, T., & Solomon, A. (n.d.). from Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon. The Theater J Blog. Retrieved from https://theaterjblogs.wordpress.com/2009/03/22/from-tony-kushner-and-alisa-solomon-and-a-response-to-them/

Levinas, E. (1998). Of God who comes to mind. United States of America: Leland Stanford Junior Univeristy.

Marks, P. (2009, March 27). Theater J’s “Seven Jewish Children” Provokes Thought, Feedback – washingtonpost.com. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/26/AR2009032603960.html

Marks, P. (2011, January 17). Israeli and Palestinian threads, bound by emotion in Theater J’s “Haifa.” Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/17/AR2011011703312.html

McDonough, L. (2011, January 24). Student Reaction to the Performance, After Reading the Novella (responses added). The Theater J Blog. Retrieved from https://theaterjblogs.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/student-reaction-to-the-performance-after-reading-the-novella/

Medoff, R. (2004). Ben Hecht’s “A Flag is Born”:  A Play That Changed History. The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. Retrieved from http://www.wymaninstitute.org/articles/2004-04-flagisborn.php

Motti Lerner. (n.d.). Association for Jewish Theatre. Retrieved from http://www.afjt.com/mem/lerner.htm

Novick, J. (2008). Beyond the golden door: Jewish American drama and Jewish American experience. Macmillan.

Onoda Power, N. (2011, May 10). Personal email.

Pladott, U. (2011, January 21). A Very Different Letter from an Israeli – Living Here. The Theater J Blog. Retrieved from https://theaterjblogs.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/a-very-different-letter-from-an-israeli-living-here/

Rosenthal, S. T. (2003). Irreconcilable differences: the waning of the American Jewish love affair with Israel. Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England.

Roth, A. (2007, June 26). A Challenge Grant, a Challenging (Great) Play and a Great (and Wonderful) Collaboration. The Theater J Blog. Retrieved from https://theaterjblogs.wordpress.com/2007/06/26/comments-reflections-the-latest-challenge-grant/

Roth, A. (2009, March 26). J Street Letter of Support on Discussing 7JC. The Theater J Blog. Retrieved from https://theaterjblogs.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/j-street-letter-of-support-on-discussing-7jc/

Roth, A. (2011a, April 18). Interview with Ari Roth.

Roth, A. (2011b, May 6). Personal email.

Roth, A., with Anonymous. (2011, January 17). As We Open, Triumphantly, Thoughtful Responses Pour In. The Theater J Blog. Retrieved from https://theaterjblogs.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/as-we-open-triumphantly-thoughtful-responses-pour-in/

Samet, R. (2011, March 6). Letter to Susie Gelman and Federation Board Members.

Schiff, E. (2004). Awake & singing: six great American Jewish plays. Hal Leonard Corporation.

Seliktar, O. (2002). Divided we stand: American Jews, Israel, and the peace process. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Solomon, A. (2007, December 17). Innocents Abroad: Jerry Herman’s musical ode to the land of milk and honey. Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life. Retrieved from http://www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-culture/theater-and-dance/1096/innocents-abroad/

Statement in Support of Israel. (2011, April 11). Federation of Greater Washington. Retrieved from http://www.shalomdc.org/blog_post.aspx?id=3729

Staub, M. E. (2004). Torn at the Roots: The Crisis of Jewish Liberalism in Postwar America. Columbia University Press.

Stern, S. (2011, January 26). Panel Coordinator’s Reflections. The Theater J Blog. Retrieved from https://theaterjblogs.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/panel-coordinators-reflections/

Traiger, L. (2011, January 5). Politics rule in Mideast play festival at Theater J. Washington Jewish Week. Retrieved from http://washingtonjewishweek.com/main.asp?SectionID=27&SubSectionID=25&ArticleID=14123

Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics. New York: Zone.

Welcome to the 2010-11 Season – The Jewish Theatre. (n.d.). The Jewish Theatre. Retrieved from http://www.tjt-sf.org/shows/welcome-to-the-2010-11-season/