December Round-Up II: Student Subscribers Bid Farewell to DC Theater Scene, “Our Suburb” and “The Admission”

We said goodbye to a great group of 16 students from the Universities of Michigan, California at Berkeley, and Notre Dame during the same weekend that we said So Long to the Woody team. Our students left us with inspired papers and collective projects for Group Theaters they might start, with a variety of newly conceived work presented on the final day of class.

The assignment: Become a theater company and articulate your raison d’etre. Plan a festival or season around that unifying mission. Propose a festival/season of 3 or more works, at least one of which must be brand new, of your own devising, that relate to that common theme, controversy, or moment in time that illuminates something about the world we live in.

Excerpts from one of the Group Theater projects is below:

Mobius Theatre
conceived by Khayla Smith, Amie Wei, & Casey Spreen

FESTIVAL THEME: A Reflection of Time

The mission of the festival, A Reflection of Time, is to unite the generations to understand that we are actually much more similar than we believe we are, despite our age differences. We hope to give people of all ages to reflect on their lives and their personal changes as they have aged, grown, and matured. We are a family oriented theatre company and as such, a major focus of ours is on the family and the relationships we share with one another. We believe that there is currently a major disconnect between the generations which has only been heightened in the media. Younger children feel like their parents do not understand them and their personal struggles, and the older generations often forget what it was like to be a kid. Our mission is to remind the generations through theatre productions, family activities, and events that we are much more similar than we may believe, and we all have something in common.

The theme of the festival is the passage of time, specifically as people age. In plays like Detroit and The Velocity of Autumn, we hope to give audiences an opportunity for soul-searching and self-discovery, as those periods of reflection remain an important part of our lives and provide a connection between family members. Being able to relate creates a relationship that may not have been there before.

We want to remind Baby Boomers of what it was like in middle aged, and even teenagers, while also providing them with a visual and emotional experience that is slightly more relevant to their age that some current productions.
We want to inform Generation X of what it is like for their parents and their kids during this era. We also want to give them opportunity to reflect on their personal development, growth, and maturity. We want to show the Millennials that the struggles and soul searching that they are going through does not go away with age. Our production that is targeted to Millennials will connect with them and provide a conversation starter between teenagers and their parents.

OUTLINE OF NEW PRODUCTION – iVictim

In iVictim, three high school girls speak out about their cyber bullying experiences over social networking websites. Each of the girls experienced bullying through technological means. After they attempt to ignore the messages, the bullying continues to escalate.
A is trying to piece her life back together as her “friends” took her tweets out of context and retweeted them. She is in shock when her friends, classmates, and even strangers, begin criticizing and threatening her for her misconduct.
C begins receiving Facebook messages from girls she thought were her friends. The messages start off as rude and immature but quickly escalate to vicious words and threats that put C in a very dark place.
K discovers embarrassing photos taken of her at a party have been posted on Instagram. Things become worse after she tells her “friends” to take the photos off of the Internet. Instead of deleting the photos, they begin reposting and sharing her photos even more on their pages. The photos became so widely shared that they eventually receive police attention, leading to potential charges for underage drinking.
iVictim records the journey of 3 girls finding their own identity while trying to fit in with the popular crowd. They want to be unique yet at the same time, not be the odd one out. They learn how the virtual world can have a significant impact on their lives. The psychological and physical outcomes of cyber bullying are similar to those of real-life bullying. The difference is, real-life bullying often ends when school ends. But cyber bullying can have a lasting impact as it follows you wherever you are. Once things get posted on the Internet, you can never be sure how they will be used and whether they will ever be truly erased.

* * *

In our final papers, students brought together common themes and reflected on the nature of their theater going experiences in DC. Here’s an excerpt from Devin Duffy’s paper, entitled “Theater and the Good Life”

In my midterm reflection of our theater class, I wrote that the theatergoing experience is intimately connected to the search to become a better and more complete person. In this essay, I wish to expand on that idea, and explore the connections between the theater experience and the good life through an analysis of the plays our class has seen this year, including Our Suburb, Detroit, and If/Then.

What is the “good life,” and how can we strive to live with meaning and purpose in our own lives? Obviously, these aren’t questions that can be definitively answered in a way that could satisfy everyone—if we had these answers, life would probably be a walk in the park. But in our quest find just what constitutes living the good life, we could do worse than beginning with two classical Greek philosophers, Aristotle and Socrates. One of Aristotle’s most renowned works, Nicomachean Ethics, is essentially an exploration of the question, “how best should men live?” He wrote about the importance of friendship, virtue, and justice, but he ultimately argues that contemplation is the highest human form of activity and the most excellent human good. In Chapter 7 of Book X, Aristotle writes “Contemplation is both the highest form of activity (since the intellect is the highest thing in us, and the objects that it apprehends are the highest things that can be known), and also it is the most continuous.” By contemplation, Aristotle means examined rational thought; reflection, both reflection upon the self and reflection upon on the world around the self.

Socrates had a similar answer. Plato recounts in The Apology what would become one of Socrates’s most famous statements: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates bold proclamation came while on trial for his life, as he refused to recant for his love of knowledge and questioning the authority around him. Practically, his statement meant he was willing to accept the death penalty rather than beg for mercy at the hands of the corrupt jurors, but his words have a transcendent quality as well: What is the point of living and existing without looking in, becoming introspective about life and its purpose, and contemplating and examining ourselves and the nature of the world around us? Socrates’s words and Aristotle’s answer are not identical, but are fundamentally related in the sense that they are both a call for the self examined, contemplative life. Without critical thought and an engagement with the nature of our living, leading the good life, a life filled with meaning and purpose, is unattainable.

So what does this discussion of ancient Greek philosophers and the good life have to do with theater class? After a semester of attending the theater, from low budget play readings in the Theater J library to high-powered musicals at The National, I became convinced that seeing a play each week and writing a reflection has helped me become a better and more complete person—and the theater has the potential to do this for all of us. I drew inspiration from the Socratic and Aristotelian discussion of just what the good life is, and I will consider how the plays we have seen fit that criteria and what we can learn from them. In my midterm reflection, I wrote about how the plays we have seen all examine the question “how can we live a meaningful life?” in a variety of ways, both directly and indirectly. In this reflection, I want to focus more about how the plays we have seen invite us to reflect on our own lives, and how this semester as a whole has given the potential for growth.

All the classes I have taken, both at Notre Dame and in the Washington Program, have give me opportunities to grow as a person. Whether the subject is math, literature, or economics, academic coursework help to give one the tools to better examine or contemplate one’s life and way of living. I believe the theatergoing experience, however, is unique that it not only gives one to tools to participate in introspection, but also holds a mirror up to the theatergoer and actively invites one to reflect and introspect. I had this experience in the very first play of the semester. It was a reading of Our Suburb, and, truth to be told, I wasn’t expecting much. But by the time I left the theater, I had no choice but contemplate the way I was living my own life.

I watched as Thornton, the girl who suffered an untimely death before she had a chance to go off to college or truly find an identity, revisits her old suburb as a ghost. Thornton is struck by the meaninglessness of the way people are living and wants to scream at them to start being alive. As LC and Ricky discuss things like football and furniture, Thornton cries out “Who cares?” But they can’t hear her; she’s dead. They continue to immerse themselves in the trivial things, and her once-friend Ricky (after remarking that marriage wasn’t what he thought it would be) goes inside to watch football.
I interpreted the conclusion of “Our Suburb” almost as a challenge: a challenge to really live, to love the people around you and cherish the moments that matter. While that sounds like a happy and cheesy message, the ending itself was quite dark—Thornton is dead and the rest of the suburb goes on without her, surrounded by the McDonalds, Burger Kings, Jack-in-the-Box’s, Dunkin Donuts, Baskin-Robbins, and Walgreens that have come to define their suburb and (by extension) their existence. This made me question myself: How am I living? What do I care about? It left me feeling haunted and a little disturbed. Thornton was murdered before she found all the answers to those fundamental questions about meaning and purpose, and playwright Darrah Cloud seems to subtly provoke the audience by reminding us that we don’t need to die and come back as ghosts to think critically about the way we live. On that particular Thursday night, I was not planning on thinking about the nature of my existence or engaging in any form of Socratic contemplation about myself, yet I was coerced into a kind of self-examination…

[Discussion of Detroit and If/Then omitted here]

I have written a lot about the reflection that this semester of attending the theater has caused me to partake in, and all the introspection I have engaged in. I have argued that since Aristotle, Socrates, and many others hold reflection and self-examination in the highest esteem and identify it as a key a living the good life, I have therefore improved as a person. But what tangible results has this yielded how has this definitively changed me into the person I am now, in this moment?

In Washington D.C. especially, but really anywhere in the world, in any society, it is easy to fall into a routine—of work, school, going to the bars, meeting up with the same people, etc. Humans, for better or worse, are creatures of habit and routine, and this uninterrupted lifestyle—if unmonitored—can breed complacency. Perhaps this issue is particularly salient to me (I have written about this subject in my blog posts, midterm, and now final reflect) because I had fallen into a routine and lifestyle of complacency. This semester of theater has had such a powerful effect on me because the plays we have seen do not allow for complacency—a successful play will challenge the theatergoer. Can I point to a substantial, demonstrable difference in me because of Theater J and the Politics of Theater class? Yes, I genuinely believe so—a semester of introspection has made me more thorough in reflection, more hesitant in judgment, and more open in relationships with other people. Most importantly of all, perhaps, it has reduced the complacency I hadn’t previously realized I had been plagued with. By giving me the opportunity to lead a more examined life, I believe the theater has helped shape me into a better and more complete person.

A beautiful paper. Finally, two months ago, our students subscribers were given a chance to read the September 2013 draft of Motti Lerner’s “The Admission.” They were asked to give advice both to the theater and to the playwright based on the concerns that were being in heard in pockets of our community about the play. The following are just a selected responses, some coming in the form of creatively conceived memos offering advice, others heart-felt readings of the play.

S. Barnas offers the following “memo” on behalf of the J, culling from materials already published by the Federation and DCJCC:

FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLIC RELEASE

Members of the vibrant and diverse D.C. Jewish community have raised concerns about Theater J’s production of “The Admission,” slated to open on March 20th, 2014, as part of the Theater’s “Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival”.

“The Admission,” which has not yet been viewed by a single theatergoer and has undergone numerous revisions, is not an attempt to reargue a contentious historical occurrence or even make a historical judgment. It is an attempt to explore how Jews and Arabs have created their historical memories as a means for survival and self-identity. These historical memories have to be explored and revised continuously in order to create a solid basis for reconciliation between the two people. That is the part of the wider essence of theatre and of Theater J. It is not to make political statements but to provoke thought. This is also the reason we have public post-show discussions after many of our plays. We do not shy away from our artistic work bur rather offer a forum to explore the theatrical, political, and social elements of art.

Jews all over the world must recognize the fact that the future of the State of Israel depends on the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In this process, we are vehemently opposed to any denigration, defamation, or attacks on Israel through any medium of expression or function funded by any individual in the Jewish community. Jewish theatre must deal with the various models for resolving this conflict and take part in their creation and internalization in Jewish communities throughout the world. This may be uncomfortable for some but nonetheless, necessary and beneficial for all.

Our funding partner, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (“The Federation”), does not think it is their role to determine what is appropriate and inappropriate to say about Israel. It is not their job to interfere in a select few program from the thousands they support that may make some uneasy. The Federation stands firm that they will not support any organization that encourages the boycott of, divestment from or sanctions against (BDS) the State of Israel in pursuit of goals to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish State. This is also the official and longstanding position of the DCJCC.

DCJCC stands firmly in support of Israel as an independent Jewish state. It supports open, balanced and respectful dialogue that engages a broad community in meaningful conversation. DCJCC chooses its partners and affiliations to ensure that all programming supports the DCJCC’s mission to preserve and strengthen Jewish identity, heritage, tradition, and values. It opposes “Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions” of Israel (BDS) and all efforts to delegitimize the right of the State of Israel to exist.

DCJCC is committed to presenting a wide selection of programs that present multiple viewpoints. In fact, DCJCC has programs specifically intended to promote Israeli films, authors, and discussion. These programs are a vibrant part of its calendar and activism in the community. Some will make you laugh. Some will make you sad. Some will make you angry. DCJCC is a testament that a love and commitment to Israel and a diverse array of conversation in the Jewish community are not mutually exclusive. Nor will DCJCC assume the right to decide who is a legitimate member of the Jewish family. That is antithetical to its mission and values.

Many critics have argued to cease their generous donations to The Federation. Who then, would feed the community’s needy and provide various vital services in the Jewish community and otherwise? Who would support and strengthen communities in Washington DC, around the world, and in Israel? This stance and course of action is, in fact, anti-Israel. DCJCC welcomes those who are considering withholding their donations and support of the wider Jewish community to reflect who it is they are really hurting and to continue to take part in this tough and necessary community dialogue.

M. Madison offers an appreciation of the work:

“The Admission” is particularly enchanting as it I believe it engages the politics of family, money, and race. In Motti Lerner’s statement of purpose, though, he writes that his intention in the play is to encourage the exploration of what happened during the attack on Tantura, and to leave the memories and details open to change during the process as a way to reconcile the two people to one another. In my reading of the play, he was successful in accomplishing this.

It was evident as Giora sought information and understanding from both Ibrahim and Avigdor that the members of both families had reduced their memories of the attack on Tantur to what was “comfortable,” forgoing the painful details in order to move forward with their lives. What I thought Lerner did with skill in his writing was this: he walked the careful line of presenting information without offering his bias toward one party or the other, and therefore allowed the reader to cast his or her own judgment on the situation. It is perhaps this that sparked such strong reactions in some people. Because the playwright largely left his audience to determine for themselves their emotions regarding the conflicts in the play, there was little control for how weak or strong the responses may be. I did not feel as though Lerner wrote in a way to cause his readers to believe a certain idea or group of people, as it would have been easy to do in a play such as this.

As critics read “The Admission,” I am almost encouraged by the strength and the depth of the responses as I feel that was part of Lerner’s intention. I think reconciliation comes in the midst of deep pain and questioning of what one believes to be true. I hope for those who feel an intimate connection to events in the play that this encourages them to seek more information about their own lives and histories, and to engage in what may be painful conversations to bring about healing in their own lives.

From S. Earle:

Motti Lerner’s “The Admission” has not hit the stage yet, yet the play has already managed to generate international controversy and recognition. Many Israelis have raised concerns of Lerner’s work, which critiques Israeli military during the War of Independence. People who take issue with the work have questioned if this play is worth dividing the Jewish community? And have questioned what message Theater J is trying to send by producing this fictitious play?

From my reading of the play, Lerner’s work does not vilify or victimize a particular group of people. With all conflict, there are going to be multiple accounts of why the conflict has arisen in the first place, what the conflict entailed and how (if at all) the conflict was resolved. Lerner’s play is just that, a single account, or narrative regarding the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The play does imply that sometimes what we take for granted as being truth is more biased and complicated than we might think. I take that implication to be a great lesson for dealing with life’s conflicts in general, especially before making judgments about a person, group of people or situation. Rather than dividing the Jewish community, I think Lerner’s play could do more good than harm in creating at least a mutual respect or understanding between the groups. Obviously in conflict opposing groups will have their own, biased understanding of the situation. Lerner’s play exposes that there are multiple “truths” to every story. All of which are important in gaining an accurate, and comprehensive idea of what the “truth” really is.

L. Miller answers three tough questions posed to the group confrontationally.

Why has this play brought out such angry feelings in some people?
This play takes place in a space between right and wrong, truth and falsehoods, history and future. This play is situated in such a way that forces both sides to question the hard lines we have drawn in history. By forcing both sides to recognize the gray areas in their own stories, it takes away from our ability to feel morally deserving of the ‘right’ side of history. This is uncomfortable. This is thought provoking and foundation shaking. The world isn’t always distinctly black and white like we want it to be, and this play shoves that fact in our face. This play is meant to push people to explore their thoughts and beliefs on the issues facing today’s world.

Why would the playwright fabricate this story?
The playwright ficitonalizes the story to allow us to think more theoretically. It allows us the opportunity to consider the fact that different sides of a story will report different accounts of what happened. Fictionalizing the story makes it impossible to investigate which side was right or wrong based on history books. History is often written by the victors. History is just a story of the human race. Just because it is published doesn’t mean it is totally truthful. Fictionalizing allows us to recognize that there may very well be no objective ‘truth’ in any of this.

Why does Theater J produce anti-Israel plays?
Theater J does not produce anti-Israel plays. Theater J produces thoughtful and emotionally provocative art in order to engage the community in discussions about issues affecting the world today. Theater J is here to support artists and community growth. Theater J is using many Israeli artists in the production of this Israeli play that is meant to share the sentiments of some Israelis. Theater J does not wish to impose any sort of belief on any person or group. Theater J simply wishes to use art as a medium to explore human and community growth and morals.

Finally, L. List expanded her analysis and argument to write a stirring final paper, addressing aspects of the controversy that’s been aroused by The Admission

My first reaction to reading The Admission was rooted in peace; however, my first reaction to the controversy and outrage triggered the play by some was one of anger. Yet, though the reaction piece I wrote may at first seem to be stemmed in what some may view as an unfair bias toward Palestine (which I disagree with), my anger grew not from the politics inside the play itself but outside. More specifically, I have a great and unshakeable distaste for what I view to be the premature and unjust silencing of a voice out of what I view to be fear. It does not, however, make me upset for only those who are silenced as a result of this but also for those whose fear grips them in such a way that they cannot distinguish friendly criticism from harmful attacks.
I would like to preface this by saying very clearly that the reader should rest assured that I do not believe Israelis to be evil and I do not consider myself to be anti-Israel. I will however, using the 20/20 that hindsight allows, acknowledge that some of the actions undertaken by Israel have caused some complications in the region. I am not suggesting that Israel is alone in this. All countries have made their own missteps in an effort to protect themselves or others. Individual humans are imperfect so it is ridiculous to expect a large conglomerate of them to be.
Furthermore, if I may, I will question the base of this outrage—not in an effort to attack and dismantle any view which might oppose mine, but to understand it. As a student, I feel it is my responsibility to ask these questions and be as open as possible to any answer because that it how I find I grow. I hope you will not consider this piece to be an attack, but as a request for help. Before I begin, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself in order to contextualize my understanding of the region, as I realize the politics of it are inextricably linked to The Admission and the reactions to it.
As a student, my focus has been that of world politics and international studies, my sub-focus Iying in the Middle East. In an effort to better understand the region, I have not only taken several courses but participated (at least nominally) in several student groups. Additionally, I am very fortunate to have many friends who are very passionate about the region and who are open to discussing their varying points of view and background. This is not to say that I am an expert by any means.
I have attended meetings, events and discussions. I have participated in (or observed) Jumu’ah, Passover, Shabbat and various Eids. I have no religious affiliation with either Judaism or Islam. In fact, I have no religious affiliation at all and I do sincerely hope you those reading do not discredit me because of this. I would love to have a discussion with you about your views on religion. There have been times when I have disagreed with avid supporters of a one state solution and a two-state solution on either side and I deeply sympathize with both. That being said I cannot and will not agree that The Admission is a “lie”, or “anti-Semitic” or dangerous in anyway. After condemning rhetoric in a play, I found it discomfiting that organizations like COPMA employed equal rhetoric to slander it. To be clear, I do understand why they feel it is a threat but I am going to do my best to show that the large part of the audience will not find it so (or to better understand why COPMA and some other members of the community feel it might).
To me, as I watched The Admission I observed characters who had seen the devastations of war struggle to understand those depredations. I empathized deeply with Avigdor, with Giora and with Ibrahim and Azmi alike. Knowing Avigdor’s actions did not make me hate him; nor did Giora’s reaction to his father’s actions make me disfavor him. I understood. I understood that this was a family interaction. I understood that to many Israelis the War of Independence was a war of survival. I understood the fear, the fear they had a right to, that encompassed them. To many Israelis, this was their last and only chance for a home. I do not dismiss that lightly; however, the heaviness of what comes with war surely must also affect them. I know it would affect me. The question of what was truly needed to survive and what was too much.
This is the nature of war. It is murky. Al-Nakba and the War for Independence both happened; that there were casualties on both sides and that neither side is completely clean. These are part of the struggles of many wars– the guilt and anger and confusion and desire to simply live but not necessarily know how to. This is a reality for many people, whether Tantura happened or not. This is the truth I took from this play. I saw a profound humanity in all of the characters. I did not move to condemn them (or Israel or Palestine) and I do not think my empathy will be an uncommon reaction.
That being said, this play may indeed cause some division within the Jewish community. While I concur that it will, I question the notion that this division will be harmful to the Jewish community. David Ben Gurion once said “the test of democracy is freedom of criticism” , which most take to mean that criticism is an essential part of a democratic community. In some ways, dissent within a community can help it grow. The ability to self-reflect helps us discover the nuance in our actions and to understand how we might better them and better the community we care deeply about. I do not believe this play will engender an unhealthy discussion within the community; on the contrary, I feel that accepting such a controversial play with open arms and vigorous discussion will help members of the community better understand each other. This communication does bear some caveats, however. In communicating with each other, we must show sensitivity to the others’ views and, perhaps, that’s where this play failed for some members. The wonderful thing about communication, however, is that it is a free commodity! In fact, I think it is excellent that the community is debating, even now, the play’s place within it. That being said, I caution everyone to consider how they say what they say and why they said it.
After having studied the rise and fall of historical communities, after observing communities in other nations and of other cultures, and after studying my own this is what I feel I have learned. Strength is built upon honesty and freedom by acceptance. Conflict always has two narratives and sometimes it isn’t completely clear who the “good guys” are or if there are even “good guys”. Sometimes it’s also true that the person, or nation as that may be, you are rooting for does things that aren’t typically considered morally “good”—whether this be for self-preservation or ideology. At times, it may be difficult to accept a view which conflicts so closely with your own and in attempting to better understand it, and to fight it we forget about the humanity of others, we reject other stories and views because we feel it must be done to preserve our own. I know that I am guilty of this as well, but I am human and part of learning to be better is to acknowledge that and re-work to better empathize with these views. Not only does this help me understand my own position in a new light, but it also helps me speak with those who hold differing views more effectively.
I struggle to believe that Motti Lerner intended this play to be as condemning as some believe it to be. Perhaps, in the spirit of criticism and democracy, it might be productive to ask him what he intended with the play! Have a community discussion, invite everyone and talk—with him and with each other about the play. While it may be true that the events are fictitious and that Motti Lerner may not be an Arab-Israeli conflict expert, he may not need to be. A play is a form of expression! This play is his expression of his viewpoints or of the viewpoints observed around them. Therefore, the only expertise he needs to write this play– which I feel highlights families’ struggles to interpret past tragedies– are his experiences.
A community is built upon many small relationships which intertwine to form a larger one and, like any relationship; this larger one must have difficult discussions which examine possible mistakes. Telling a member of the community they do not deserve to speak is a certain way to ostracize parts of the community until it becomes progressively fractured. This, this sort of attitude, this intense hostility is a surefire way to divide a community and, I would suggest, it is not a worth it. The hallmark of a healthy community is its ability to work through conflict after having heard all perspectives—it is not based in the paranoia that any deviation will result in its destruction.
Furthermore, it is also useful to remember that historical events are subjective. Each event is seen through many eyes and, interestingly enough, so is art. It is not the job of art to confirm your biases. Instead it should (at times) challenge your perspective and one should always look at it with an open mind. While I agree that it is sometimes difficult to discern art from propaganda, I am not certain that censoring it is the best method of addressing it immediately. Is censorship the lesser evil here? Is it the proper way to address ignorance that propaganda perpetuates or stems from? I still feel that the best method to address ignorance and propaganda is to shine a very bright light on it. To expose it for its flaws, but before exposing it to understand it; to understand whether the intent was malicious or misguided—or perhaps to even learn that I, myself, was misguided. I know that I have been misguided in the past and I found the only way to correct it was to discuss it with others—to ask lots of questions, not in a condemning way but in a way that seeks knowledge.
So, instead of moving that the play is a “lie” and that it is using inflammatory rhetoric. Perhaps, I may look into the characters, find myself in them and empathize. Perhaps I might read more history in an attempt to understand it in a better manner than I had before. After reading the play, I thought of it instead as fiction. While Tantur itself may not have happened, the reality of war and the reality of living in a region of conflict lies in the grey lines of morality, thought and realities of a multitude of people. I truly believe that Mr. Lerner was attempting to use fiction to more freely deliver his message in a digestible fashion and, as a less involved observer of the play, I did not find that message to be malicious.
Instead, I believe Mr. Lerner was attempting to address the multitude of realities that exist. He was showing a great deal of empathy and understanding toward both families who struggled with the realities of conflict. As an Israeli himself, perhaps he has observed the guilt that comes with having fought a war; the heaviness of taking someone’s life and of watching others take the lives of dear friends; the uncertain present wherein you find yourself living in a small space with those you just finished fighting. It is an incredibly complex manner that I cannot claim to understand and I’m certain Mr. Lerner does not claim to fully understand the conflict either—but he is trying to and I don’t think he should be condemned for that. As a part of the larger Jewish community, I feel he is trying his best to interact with all members and silencing him may not only ostracize him but those who felt the guilt Avigdor described or Giora or the emotions of any other character. The reality of a large and diverse community such as this is that it will include many small differences and while it can be difficult to ascertain which of those differences is threatening to the community and which is not in the moment, I hope that the community moves to self-reflect after every heated discussion or argument.
I sincerely hope that the community in the United States continues to discuss this play, as I’m sure the community in Israel is doing. I hope that we all can move to be more accepting of each other, more open and more willing to discuss even the most difficult and contentious of issues so that we all can better ourselves. I know that I have greatly benefited from reading everyone’s thoughts on the play and from self-reflecting upon my initial reaction to it and to the discussion currently underway. I hope to continue to learn as the play moves forward.