With Sadness, We Reflect

I just want you to know that I’m so happy you’re my friends.

And I hope we’ll be together until we’re old.

We’ll be freaky old-ladies, always together, holding each other’s hand so we don’t fall.  We’ll be like a secret sect with its own language that no one else can understand,  members only.  And everyone will know that our friendship is above everything, above boys, above children, and above grandchildren…

– Tirzah, from Anat Gov’s BEST FRIENDS

Anat Gov, Professor Gad Kaynar, and Edna Mazya at IsraDrama 2011.

Anat Gov, Professor Gad Kaynar, and Edna Mazya at IsraDrama 2011.

Shirley here.

On the fourth day of our IsraDrama experience last year, Ari, Stephen, Jen and I  sat down to the first conversation that gave voice to the many women writing and creating theater in Israel. Sitting before us was Anat Gov, looking stylish and sleek in jeans and a short haircut; and Enda Mazya, distinguished and composed in silk and slacks. The two worked as a team in every respect. Not only has Mazya (a playwright in her own right) directed nearly every one of Gov’s popular comedies, but she served as her mouth piece even now, in a relatively intimate conversation. Questions went to Anat, she’d speak quietly in response to Edna, and then Edna would share the response with the gathered audience (all members of the IsraDrama gathering).  Mazya (and Anat–via Mazya) explained that it had nothing to do with Gov’s familiarity with English, but was rather a result of her extreme shyness. And–perhaps just as important–it was the way they liked to do this, the method they preferred to speak about their work. I was struck, even a little taken aback, by the intimacy of this relationship. What collaborator would I ever trust to be my mouthpiece? Who could ever know me that well? Who would I ever want to know me that well?

The discussion was led by one of the male conference heads, from whom we’d already heard quite a bit during the first several days of the conference. They were strong voices, these men of Israeli theater, and our moderator faced this discussion with an already familiar assertiveness. The pair talked about their working dynamic; their commitment to  left-leaning politics and how that plays into their work; and mostly about the very personal experience that inspired Anat’s most recent play–her ongoing battle with Cancer. The moderator pushed harder, “Tell us about a disagreement you’ve had while working together? Tell us about a fight you’ve had”. Both women smiled cryptically. They didn’t have to go in that direction, and they knew it. “He’s trying to create drama here!” Anat/Edna said with a smile and an under-lying subtext that I couldn’t help but fill in: “We prefer to keep our drama on the stage”.

It was one of my favorite–and for me one of the most revealing–moments of the conference. I’d been looking to better understand Israeli society and gender politics. This exchange said a lot.

We went on to see Gov’s “musical fantasy” about cancer, HAPPY END. Ari wrote of the piece:

And the work?  How’s the work? Well, it’s funny; it’s emotional; and it cleverly, deftly touches upon tough issues but in, almost always, warm and humane ways.

We received the very sad new today that Anat Gov’s battle with cancer ended this weekend.  Profiles of the writer are online here and here. Theater J mourns this loss, made even more poignant by the recent death of the brilliant Israeli actress Rozina Kambos, who appeared here in Washington, DC as Miriam in RETURN TO HAIFA. Rozina received a much deserved nomination for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Non-Resident production, making her the first Israeli actress ever to be nominated for a Helen Hayes  Award.  

Suheil Haddad and Rozina Kambos in the Cameri Production of RETURN TO HAIFA, presented by Theater J in 2011.

Suheil Haddad and Rozina Kambos in the Cameri Production of RETURN TO HAIFA, presented by Theater J in 2011.

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A Little More Conversation…

Shirley again.

Unlike Elvis, we love the conversation here at Theater J.

Re-visiting PHOTOGRAPH 51, we now share clips from the Sunday, April 10th discussion: Women Scientists: Breaking Through the SiO2 silica + sodium carbonate Na2CO3 + CaCo3 Ceiling

That afternoon, we were joined by a stellar team of women scientists, and women dealing with issues surrounding gender in the science world:
• Moderated by Elaine Reuben: Board Member, The Feminist Press, one of founding trustees of Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation of Greater Washington and a Theater J Council Member
• Catherine Didion: Director of the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (CWSEM) of the National Research Council (NRC) and Senior Program Officer, National Academy of Engineering
• Erika Milam: Professor of Science History, University of Maryland
• Alice Popejoy: Public Policy Fellow at the Association for Women in Science
• Dahlia Sokolov: Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education of the House Committee on Science and Technology

In this first clip, Erika Milam talks about the class she teaches in women in the sciences, and the challenges of retaining women in the STEM fields.

In this excerpt, Alice Popejoy explains the research that the Association for Women in Science has done surrounding the differing ways in which male and female scientists are valued within their communities.

Keep checking back, as I’ll be posting more clips throughout the next week!

A Conversation with Kindra Crick

Last night we had the great pleasure of hosting the following post-show discussion:

A Conversation with Kindra Crick, Visual Artist and Grand-daughter of Francis Crick, moderated by Dafna Steinberg, Gallery Director of the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery

Kindra’s a delight, charming, brilliant and engaging–a fact that is further reinforced when you take the time to peruse her show in The Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery near the Q Street entrance of the DC JCC.

We’ll be posting clips from our discussions as frequently as we can. Here’s a peek at the conversation last night, as Kindra discusses the phenomenon of created history:

And later in the evening, when she showed the audience a letter from her grandfather to her fourteen-year-old father; explaining the discoveries that he and James Watson had made, which were soon to be published in the renowned Nature article. As he explains to his son “You can understand that we are very excited”.

The Return of 5 x 5

Shirley here.

I have to give Grace Overbeke, our new-ish (going on six months now!) Director of Marketing, full credit for encouraging the resurrection of our 5 x 5 Programming. In addition to her mad skills with Photoshop and press releases, she’s worked as a dramaturg and director in the DC area and beyond, and was willing to take on producer and directorial duties if we revived the series.

Hannah Hessel, our fantastic former Theater J Director of Programming, launched the 5 x 5 readings as a creative way for audiences to react to the shows we produce. It asks that audiences go further than just talking about the play; and actually process the work through their own artistic lens by writing a five minute play inspired by the show.

We had a great response to the call for submissions during SOMETHING YOU DID; which inspired us to program for not one, but TWO afternoons of 5 x 5 readings to go along with THE ODD COUPLE (a chance to see your own crazy roommate story on stage!).

As a follow-up to the SOMETHING YOU DID 5 x 5 readings, I’ve asked our Literary Intern Rebecca Gingrich-Jones to write about her experience from the perspective of a playwright participating in the program. Take it away Rebecca…

I recently had the pleasure of participating in another example of Theater J’s commitment to new voices and local playwrights in its “5×5: Scenes from the Revolution” staged reading. Playwrights were asked to submit a 5-minute play inspired by the 2010-2011 season opener, Something You Did by Willy Holtzman.
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