The last three days have taken us down to Chapel Hill, NC for an intense workshopping of one of our two Israeli plays coming up this winter. BOGED (TRAITOR): AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE by Boaz Gaon and Nir Erez based on the play by Henrik Ibsen is being workshopped down here because this is where our director, Joseph Megel (who directed THE LAST SEDER for us a full ten years ago) is artist-in-residence at the big U and a go-to director for the best new works in this part of the country. He gathered a terrific group of professional and a few graduate student actors to allow our principal playwright, Boaz Gaon, who worked so wonderfully with us on RETURN TO HAIFA (effectively revising the English language text for the projections on that Hebrew-Arabic production) to pour over his play and produce a significantly intensified draft this week. Different, of course, from RETURN TO HAIFA, this play will be an English language premiere. We have a whip-smart playwright, a former New York correspondent for Ma’ariv Newspapers with a flawless command of English, nonetheless writing his first play in a second language, and there has been much learning and refining of language and characterization as this fiery allegory about an environmental disaster in the desert makes its powerful impact on an American audience for the first time.
Our workshop presentation has been sponsored by the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies. Established in 2003, the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies at the U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill unites the general public, students and faculty from various academic disciplines who share a common passion for a deeper understanding of Jewish history, culture and thought. On Saturday night, the Center brought out over 130 to the William and Ida Friday Center (a sparkling, vast facility) for the culminating public presentation of our workshop. We were joined in NC by two Theater J Council members, Stephen Stern and Rose Weiner. The play took huge leaps forward during the week. For example, Boaz provided us with comprehensive backstories for the entire Douany family and that background made its way deftly into the front-text of the play, informing the fraternal rivalry, and the husband-wife dynamic as well. Our playwright will come back up to DC with us today, spending the week rewriting (based on last night’s gleanings and the copious notes he received well past midnight), and then we’ll present the play once more, on October 8 at 7:30 at Baltimore Center Stage where that flagship company is performing Arthur Miller’s adaptation of AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE. We’ll have more opportunity to talk about the play, the powerful issues in it, and the objectives we’re addressing during this workshop process. And this next time, we’ll be working with just about all or our DC cast members in advance of our January premiere of the play at Georgetown.
This kicks off a month’s worth of workshopping, which will also see us convene another week of exploration of Jacqueline Lawton’s THE HAMPTON YEARS, culminating with a public Tea @ 2 reading on Friday, October 26 at 2 pm in our library. A great chance to build off the insights made during our Labor Day reading at the Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage Festival.
And October 29 will mark the public workshop of my own ANDY AND THE SHADOWS, as we bring our director Daniella Topol down during the previous week (with her brand new baby in tow!) and share this family opus with just about our entire cast taking part. That play too, like Boaz Gaon’s, has been going through intensive refinement over the summer and it will be exciting to gather the cast several months in advance of real rehearsals for the official production to see what we’ve got!
All this intensive development activity as we usher three world premieres into the world. It’s a good way to build good work. We feel very grateful to have this opportunity.
As we move onward, out of NC, to take in a huge day of play-going in DC. THE INVISIBLE MAN at Studio with our group from UM/UC/ND, and then tonight, a rehearsal run-through of OUR CLASS. With 11 days to go before first preview! Exciting times!