Before THE ACCIDENT fades into our rear view mirror, I wanted to do a drive-by write up of the fantastic panel discussions and Peace Cafes we hosted during the run of the show(okay, car metaphors, stop, now.)
When last you heard from our Artistic Roundtable team (that’s me and Stephen Stern) he’d reported on one of our early discussions; held while still in previews. That was followed by our Sunday, February 8 panel- TURNING A BLIND EYE: THE CAMERA LOOKS AT ISRAEL, which featured:
• Sinai Peter, Israeli director of THE ACCIDENT
• David Vyorst, Documentary Film-maker and communications specialist
• Erica Ginsberg, co-founder and Executive Director of Docs In Progress, an organization dedicated to empowering independent documentary filmmakers
We looked at the character of Adam, and his particular dilemma as a documentary film-maker. The discussion brought out this very interesting question of “the different narratives “ (very much a film-maker term) surrounding the accident and how that changed with each character, over time from “we killed him”; to “he jumped in front of our car”; to “he was clearly trying to kill himself”. What ACTUALLY happened? At what point do we stop knowing? Similar questions are involved in Adam’s film. On this, David commented, “as you are making a film—the lateral movement of the focus—is understandable and believable”. Perhaps we also witnessed in this story how a lateral movement of focus can happen in real life. Erica viewed the play as a “human dilemma” one that could be happening anywhere, and not exclusively in Israel. This question—how specifically Israeli is this story—is one that arose frequently in our discussions with both panelists and audiences. Continue reading
We close THE ACCIDENT today as we’re going out on a big high with last night’s sold out house and more wall-to-wall crowds today. This is succeeding exactly the way we want to; on a strong, meaty play with wonderful collaborators; an audience of diverse ages and backgrounds, all actively engaged in a play of relationships, ideas, and strong theatrical style, and we end making some good money too! Why can’t life always be this way? Even as we deal with depressing, real-life subject matter? This is when art becomes really fun — we take the true crap of our lives and transform it into elevating expression. A father and daughter struggle and then cry on the phone separated by thousands of miles. And the audience is moved. The video flickers. The music swells. Applause. Thunderous ovation. Good times.
Here’s a link to the full text of Rick Stein’s nice piece on our production in this month’s American Theatre Magazine. We were in the mag last month with HONEY BROWN EYES. Rick’s second article about a Voices From a Changing Middle East festival play makes us proud. Happy Accident.
Check out all THE ACCIDENT reviews on the press page of our website, and appreciate this wonderful profile on both our playwrights, Hillel Mitelpunkt and Motti Lerner.
Our favorite written response comes from a great gentleman of the theater, and our dear friend and resident director Nick Olcott who writes:
This play is flat-out brilliant. It is a perfectly realized tragedy. Everyone’s shameful actions are fully human, disturbingly understandable, and completely inevitable.
And the modernity of the tragedy is breathtaking — no one is undone. Their lives go on as before. Oedipus doesn’t need to blind himself — he was blind from the start.
I described it to Michael Tolaydo as a cross between “Crime and Punishment” and “Heartbreak House”. Our comfortable lives have become our crime and simultaneously our punishment.
Brilliant play, superb production.
I haven’t stopped thinking about it.
From Stephen Stern:
It’s been an eventful month and more in the life of Theater J, in this town and nationally and internationally, and in the life of my family. I’ve been caught up in working with Shirley and Ari in putting together the post-show discussions on the “Voices from a Changing Middle East” shows – and on my own March 23 theatrical contribution, working with Akbar Ahmed and our creative team to get Waziristan to Washington: A Muslim at the Crossroads ready for performance.
Tonight, The Accident opens. Here’s another rave! Run and go see it! You will be blown away by another Israeli-American collaboration –one that searingly combines the delicious, insidious sensibility on couples and family relationships of the Patrick Marber/Mike Nichols film Closer with a multi-layered look inside a dynamic part of Israeli society (a la Pangs of the Messiah). In this instance, its the world of Tel Aviv professionals facing their own moral compromises.
The last posts from Ari and Shirley open up the vast territory of the intense, engaged post-show discussions of this and the previous show, Iris Bahr’s Dai. (a portrait of varied lives surging through a Tel Aviv café in a time of terror). Let me just say for now that our discussions are sizzlin’ and there’s one on the pressures on documentary film-making this afternoon. Ari, in his blog post, wrestles with the Washington POST’s blurb simplifying (dumbing down?) the achievement of The Accident to an “indictment of modern Israeli culture”. The theater’s press release sees it as “a reflection of the way we live now” — that is — an introspection of moral dilemmas embodied in vivid characters and all that they face – or indeed, run away from. Shirley – in hearing the brilliant, funny, disturbing responses of Thursday’s panel of social activists to the “moral dyslexia” of these characters and our own moral questioning- “wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry or scream.”