Category Archives: Either Or

EITHER OR on ABC (Australia)!

ABC Radio National of Australia has posted the podcast of Thomas Keneally’s talk at the Victoria State Library held earlier this summer in Melbourne. I had the pleasure of being on the panel with Tom, and the results of that very interesting discussion–which engendered wonderful responses from the 150 gathered for the event–make up the second part of this pocast (click here to access it now) with the first part devoted to another Australian play about World War One, and part three about the late great Ingmar Bergman and his stagework; worth a listen to as well.

Leaving the Magical Land of Oz…

…as Sir Tom Does Dishes Down Under
Tom Keneally Washing Dishes in Australia
…And I depart with so little to show as a blogger! Ah, but instead, I spend my four days in Australia living and learning and falling in love with a community and almost no time behind my laptop documenting, feeding the beast of the bottomless electronic vessel. Instead, I’m a happy wanderer and a drinker of endless cups of tea around dining room tables being a very busy torch bearer, keeping the flame of our collaboration with the artists of Australia alive.

Which is to say, I have 300 new friends. And Theater J has even more – many more admirers after this whirlwind tour where – and you know the old saw about having to leave home before finally getting a little respect – people who didn’t know any better think our theater just might be the envy of the Jewish cultural universe. Well, who knows? Maybe it is! And we don’t really feel we need to leave home just to get a good word these days. We’s getting’ plenty.

But apologies for the news blackout just the same, since I promised, three reports on three different speaking/panel/workshop/presentational engagements. Now guess what? There’s no time to report on any of ‘em. Nevertheless, be happy with me that we’ve collectively served the cause of art, bridge building, and emotional global warming as well. Haven’t even downloaded the ten pictures I took – whereas in my minds eye, there are thousands of snapshots. How to share those?

I leave for the airport in an hour. Guess what? This trip was too short. Or as I was given to saying in our writers workshop yesterday – “too fucking short” – with the added colloquialism in due deference to Daniel DeRaey, who should have been here as we talked about him so much – and to the overall tenor of candor and lack of pretension that makes this culture so winningly attractive.

Let me get this posted. This good news, heart full, eyes tired, backpack stuffed missive out to the world and know that a connection with a whole of community of writers and artists has been forged and we’ll be reaping benefits for years to come. And what better, who better, than to be the cherubic Irish-Aussie leprechaun smiling down on every interaction than Sir Tom’s a-Keneally. Best photos to look forward to? Tom and Ari doing dishes in the kitchen of the Writer’s Center loaned-to mansion after our four-hour workshop yesterday followed by lunch. How the women cajoled us into doing that is another one of the mysteries of nature. But there’s evidence. We held court for hours with 25 writers and then did their dishes. Ah, the wages of indulging our hubris.
Ari Washing Dishes in Australia

A great time. Come one, come all. The citizens of Melbourne await.

Melbourne Press (edited)

Have sat for a couple interviews here. One, done before I left the States, came out with a great big wonderful photograph of Paul Morella and a full page story that was, alas, a bit of botch job by the editors of the Australian Jewish News. The restored edited version of the piece is copied at the bottom of this entry

But the piece done by the State Library of Victoria, also copied below, is quite lovely. The Library — absolutely gorgeous, stately, impressive as hell — is where the talk with Keneally will be held tonight. Will share much more in the days to come. More of last night’s presentation at the Holocaust Museum. More of my meeting with long-long never-before-seen relatives. More on tomorrow morning’s “Master Class.” For now, more electronic ink. Continue reading

Greetings from Melbourne – And What is This Thing Called Australian Jewish Theater?

G’day Mates!
Am here in rainy Melbourne after just a fabulous, “beaut” day yesterday. Didn’t put me “togs” on but wandered the beach in suburban Brighton just the same. Was picked up at the airport by me hosts, Richard Zimmerman and Deborah Leiser-Moore and was catered to all day. Great book shops. Lovely shopping. Long talks. And a visit to the Melbourne Holocaust Museum where tomorrow I’ll give a little talk with audience participation reading excerpts from my first family play, GIANT SHADOWS and pieces from BORN GUILTY and PETER AND THE WOLF (AND ME). Will try to tell some kind of story of the legacy of the Shoah in 2nd generation children of survivors and perpetrators and the personal and public politics of remembering the past.

I’ll talk more about the upcoming talk with Tom Keneally shortly. Today’s entry will be about the phenomenon of Jewish Theater in Australia. I copy for you excerpts of Deborah Lesier-Moore’s presentation, originally delivered at the Vienna conference for the Association for Jewish Theatre in March, 2007 and now printed in the AJT newsletter, a beautiful and very packed document with tons of great articles from and about the conferenece. So do check out the newsletter in full at the AJT website.

Jewish Theatre Down Under
by Deborah Leiser-Moore (an excerpt)

What is it to create ‘Jewish Theatre’ in Australia – this relatively new and reasonably safe country ‘down under’ where life is very easygoing? Where religion and politics are relatively safe topics of conversation but Sport is a minefield. A land of surf and sun. A country so far from the culturally rich and ancient Jewish life in Europe and very far from the ongoing tensions in the Middle East. Continue reading

EITHER OR and Theater J in Melbourne! – in Arts Hub

Tashmadada brings Keneally and Roth to Melbourne
Arts Hub
Friday, June 08, 2007

Australian author Thomas Keneally and American playwright Ari Roth, the artistic director of Theatre J in Washington DC, will be coming to Melbourne to discuss Keneally’s new play, Either Or.

The play, which had its world premiere at Theatre J this year, is based on the true story of evangelical Christian youth leader and SS officer Kurt Gerstein, who tried to sabotage the Nazis by alerting the West (even approaching the Pope) to what was transpiring under Nazi occupation.

“I met Ari Roth in Vienna in March this year at the International Congress and Festival of Jewish Theatre,” explained Deborah Leiser-Moore, who invited both Roth and Keneally to Melbourne to speak about Either Or. “I was presenting my work at the Australian Embassy. Ari Roth’s session was a reading of his play Peter and the Wolf (and Me), which was followed by a passionate discussion.

“He told me about the play he was working on with Tom Keneally. I was immediately interested, both by the themes of the play as well as the nature of their collaboration. Roth said that when he first received the script, it was fascinating, but clearly written by a novelist. Continue reading

5X5:The Eastern Front

The Eastern Front
By Arthur Hessel

[The inspiration for this short play came not only from Either/Or, but also from a number of conversations that I had with young Germans in the 1960s.]

Four older teenagers sitting at a table having a beer. Two boys, two girls. The year is 1961. They are somewhere in West Germany. We shall call them Franz, Dieter, Ursula and Kathe.

Dieter: I think I am going to Israel.

Ursula: What for?

Dieter: I’m not sure. I just think I have to go. I understand that they are welcoming, that they’d be friendly to me. You can get jobs on a kibbutz or in a hospital, even for short periods. I am sure I won’t stay long. I just have to go. Continue reading

5X5: Denier

by Brett Steven Abelman
for Theater J Either Or 5×5

(A labyrinthine space, or a labyrinthine pattern projected on the wall. A GRANDCHILD, dressed for sitting shiva.)

I kept thinking, get a tape recorder. But, no… What was I, scared? Embarrassed? Maybe it was too close to admitting the whole “dying” thing…
Maybe I thought I knew everything already. Figured I could just read Night again. Watch Schindler’s List.
At least I was brave enough to disobey the nurses and sneak Grams in one last Rueben from Decker’s. A coward would’ve said, “We gotta keep you on the prescribed diet so you can get healthy!” At least that was something, right? Right?
Yeah. Keep telling yourself that… Continue reading