Ari here. Back to some blogging after time away. Such is the summer. Below I share a pep-talk; a bit of a rallying cry to self, and to staff, and a welcome speech to the amazing cast and creative company of “After The Revolution,” Amy Herzog’s breakthrough play which opens our new season, “Crucial Questions, Critical Faultlines, Necessary Conversations.”
Opening Rehearsal Remarks, August 12, 2013
New season, new speech.
We’re back for more — even those of us who are here for a first time in this building — this different and delightful center of community
we are back for yet another round
Yet another season
What are we doing here?
Having been around the block a few dozen times
And now another show
That isn’t Shakespeare
Where there’s a value in the ritual; the repetition — like our annual plowing through the torah (or hop-scotching through it, if you’re not a regular — or dipping your toe, if you barely go at all…)
Here, where our mission compels us to nurture the new
And introduce the region to work previously unproduced in these parts
It still feels like we’ve all been here before, no?
On yet another show we didn’t write
And yet, it’s all entirely new, isn’t it? — this configuration
This convergence of talent and topic and time…
What with all the changes we’ve weathered this year
And it was a good year
But it was also hard year
For many of us
What with all we got done
What was undone
So with weariness and loss and sameness of the routine
There is also this glorious return to routine
of doing something we love…
We dust off our place-setting and pick up from where we left off at the end of last season
We return to where we first started
When we initially embarked on this crazy idealistic pursuit.
What lights the fire now?
A play about a family stands before us.
And that is enough of a spark.
We are here to identify with this family.
And yet we’re aware of the fallacy of identification; that the only wonderful work is a work in which we see ourselves — if it says or shows something about Me, then I’ll lean in; I’ll invested because I’ve got skin in the game.
Theater does rewards such personalizing. Not the narcissism per se, though that’s one of the guilty pleasures of this business — the exhibitionist has a place on the stage — but it’s the performer’s generosity we respond to; the bravery and exuberance which excites and ignites us.
It is not hard to find our deepest selves within this surrogate family.
We are the Josephs. And the Blacklist, and the fellow travelers, and the turncoats, and the spies, and the tension with the Soviets, and the challenge of making peace within this eternally-divided America; all that resides within us at this very moment in time.
We chose this play above and beyond all others as the one wanted to start our season, because it sets up a rich and thematically interlocking progression of dramas as never before. It’s the most unified, disarming, inspiring, and challenging season we’ve ever launched.
AFTER THE REVOLUTION sets up themes of family secrets, and dirty laundry exposed, demystification of a patriarchal figure, history revealed and revised, idealism challenged, defensiveness as a bulwark against an encounter with unpleasant truth, and the reality of a deeply polarized country in which these disagreements are unfolding. These are the unifying themes of the season and we love that these themes resonate here in this center– they are charged here in a special, urgent and dramatic way. This will be a great and resonant hall in which to share these ideas. The ideas will reverberate. That is, if the Jewish High Holidays don’t crowd out people’s schedules and folks can figure out when we’re performing, as we hop-scotch (once again) through the Jewish calendar this summer and early fall. Yes, we’re nervous about opening a new season in the teeth of a distracted September. But if we build something strong enough, and potent, and rich, and loving enough, we will command the attention that this work, and this group of working artist deserve.
So we commit to each other. To make this as meaningful as any production has ever been meaningful. That’s the only way we know how to do business. By doubling down on the interest, investment, risk, and fully voiced expression of collective self.
In other words, now that we are here, let’s make these weeks together count for something. Let’s put our best artistic training, and visioning, and risk taking on the table, and see if we can’t get somewhere special together.
Let us truly invest in our exploration of them, and share our findings and our expression fully with our larger community.
Let’s make this play mean something rich to each and everyone of us.
Let’s make this the warmest, most loving, most critical and confrontational family drama we’re ever undertaken.
Let’s go make some activism. Let’s go make some humanism. Let’s go make some art. Let’s go live life inside the deep foundations of this formidable framework; this well-structured world. Welcome to After The Revolution. Our New Great Work Begins.