Writing outside, at Glen Echo Park, while daughter takes in a show with The Puppet Company, evaluating it for her Puppetry Theatre Practicum, and we all still bask in the afterglow of a warm Friday night Shabbat dinner party for 50 celebrating our Israeli Creative team and cast members at the home of one of our generous Council members; a party attended by our DCJCC president, supporters from the community, and by supportive family members as well. We sang songs, once again (a second shabbat eve in a row) with Habib Shehadeh playing oud, me on guitar, singing in Hebrew, English, and Habib Arabic, with Hanna, and Leila. People again joked, “this should be the real post-show discussion; a song festival on stage!” But so it was, another warm living room hootenanny, singing songs of fellowship, of peace, with a little epic rendition of “American Pie” thrown in to make it inclusive.
There was rehearsal the day after our first preview and those two 10 hour days of tech leading up to it. Friday morning was a day for Motti Lerner to meet with Sinai Peter, his director, and me as review the written feedback comments off our workshop questionnaire as we debriefed from our first post-show conversation that (focusing now on just the usefully critical observations) noted a small slipping of tension in Act II—-a sense that the breadth of the journey that Giora, our protagonist, was making in Act I was more pronounced than in Act II. There was a concern that there were some repetitive-seeming moments-—Was there a danger of a line sounding didactic? Motti came into the meeting intent on making cuts of the more overtly didactic-seeming lines, and emerged from the script meeting with a notion of what cuts he would explore in scenes 11, 12, 13 and 14 and away he went. Back to his hotel. For more rewrites. There hasn’t been a day during the 4 week rehearsal process where there haven’t been script refinements; big and small; all with different goals in mind–smoothing out the translation; giving a great sense of depth to the characters; incorporating the impulse of the actors (especially our Arab-American actors, contributing and collaborating with Motti in the portraiture of their characters); refining dramatic objectives; we focus particularly on Giora’s objective, as it evolves from Act I to Act II, and zeroing in on his investigative research and his primary desire to write a book WITH his father; then to write a book (when Dad refuses) to write a book with his partner Samya but necessarily incorporating his father’s memories into the book so it’s a valid and rounded. “The difference will clarify the complexity of the truth”–a line we’ve been wrestling with/refining/and ultimately rendering in a way we all accept.
As we prepare for tonight’s second preview and our first formal panel discussion, I once again want to focus on the animating question, as we examine both the script and the community conversations we’ve been having around the play. Here’s the panel line-up:
|Sat, March 22||10:00 pm||Playwright Motti Lerner in conversation with the audience and invited special guests• Lydia Diamond, Playwright and Board Member, Dramatists Legal Defense Fund
• Naomi Paiss, Vice President of Public Affairs for the New Israel Fund
• Jonathan Tobin, Senior Online Editor of Commentary magazine
And here’s the focus of our inquiry: The politics and the psychology that informs a convening or a suppressing a contested historical narrative; the desire to shut down the inquiry Giora eventually launches in the play is mirrored in our community by the desire to shut down the performance of this play. Let’s discuss; with some great panelists covering a number of bases.
We’ll report back on the discussion shortly.