“The Argument” Opens, as “The Admission” Begins Workshop Preparations in Jaffa

Am off to Israel this evening to partake in the workshopping of Motti Lerner’s powerful new play, The Admission, at The Jaffa Theatre of the Arab-Hebrew Theatre Center under the directorship of Igal Ezrati. All the actors who participated in the Cameri Theatre Workshop this summer will be returning to their roles. The great actor and director Oded Kotler, who directed Apples From The Desert at Beit Lessin Theatre 7 years ago and who was the last artistic director of the Herzliyah Municipal Theatre before it was forced for financial reasons to close its doors, will be reprising the role of Avigdor, the family patriarch. I’ll be involved in wonderful artistic meetings with all the affiliated artists associated with the production team and by the weekend, we’ll be sharing excerpts from the post workshop public panel discussion. But last night, a kindred project was front and center at the J, as Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros’ The Argument opened before a sold-out audience. Here are some remarks made during the curtain speech:
in bed

….we welcome you to play #2 of our 2013-14 season, one we’re proud to have entitled “CRUCIAL QUESTIONS, CRITICAL FAULTLINES, NECESSARY CONVERSATIONS.” We think we’re doing a pretty good job of fulfilling all three components.

We’re asking the Important Questions we need to be asking as a community and as individuals. We’re identifying the faultlines and stress fractures just as a geologist maps the topography of tricky terrain to prepare for real life tremors and quakes; not just culturally-devised debates. The real life fault lines we’re seeing exposed these days speak to the testing times we’re in, where the values that we hold most dear and the principles that have guided us traditionally, must once again see us through.

And then there are those Necessary Conversations. We believe we’re convening the very best kinds of dialogue here at this Center; discourse at the highest of levels — as both an agency and a theater program; week in, week out; night in, night out, we’re engaged in civic discussions of the most enlightened nature; inclusive, multi-focal, multi-cultural. As we are pushed by technology to become more atomized, more siloed, and more trenchantly partisan, it is Necessary for us to gather peacefully (as we are tonight) bound by a common experience; a witnessing of a work of art, collectively beholding its beauty, its humanity, its audacity, its capacity to shock and inspire awe and awareness and sensitivity to multiple points of view and multiple kinds of people.

This play tonight has been fundamentally reconsidered and renewed by its playwright who is with us tonight, it is being re-consecrated by all of for this precise moment in time; for this very gathering.
When we arrive at the end of tonight journey – at the end of this initially romantic encounter – we may wind up wondering “How do we heal now?” Can we recover? Will our protagonists find love again? Will we?

The theater artists you are about to see are showing us the answer. Six performances a week. They are showing us how. They are our leaders tonight. This production itself is the hope. Long live The Art.

And turn off your cell phones.