An amazing season has come to a close. We’re still huffing and puffing, auditioning and mailing, planning and striking, and in the midst of all the summer pivoting from one intensity to the next, we do finally take the time to finish editing and now sharing with you some highlights from the season, including the videos from our April 1st Spinozium. Who could ever forget our vote!?
And now we have 8 wonderful videos to share from the day-long proceedings.
The Vimeo Spinozium Album is just one way to take in the day of debate.
The other way is through our website, at New Jerusalem: Spinozium
Let us know what you think!
‘New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch De Spinoza’ returns to Theater J
By Nelson Pressley, Tuesday, March 6, 7:46 PM
“New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza” strides back into Theater J after its acclaimed 2010 run as an established hit, and the show’s success is no mystery. The David Ives script is fierce, funny and up-to-the-minute in its moral investigations. And the cast knocks it out of the park.”
Read the rest of the review here. And then let’s jump to the end…
“The arguments sing, and they plainly resonate at Theater J, a rigorous troupe that has survived frictions over some of its Middle East-themed programming. The ability to think and speak freely: It’s a religion thing, a political thing, and a theater thing, as well. To this question, the company’s “New Jerusalem” speaks wisely, and well.”
Read the review in its entirety here.
This from our friendly blogger, “ArthurThinks,” who feels that David Ives has written the equivalent of JFK, NIXON, and W; which is to say that he’s written a “non-historical play about an historical event.”
“Of course, it is difficult to write a non-historical play about an historical event, and Ives’ story, which has an Amsterdam civil and Christian leader not only attending the excommunication debate at the synagogue but to a great extent controlling it, and testimony both from a young gentile Dutchman who had portrayed himself as Baruch’s best friend but who turned out to be a spy for the Christian community, and a young Christian woman who was Spinoza’s romantic interest. I am not a student of the Spinoza trial, but would be very surprised if any of these three characters were historical.
So verisimilitude is not Ives’ primary goal. But, unless you knew something about Spinoza, you would not know that you were not seeing actual history.”
The question and the challenge: How much of what Ives has written is true? Did he make up Simon DeVries or Clara Van Den Enden? No. But their roles in the play are enhanced and augmented from what we know of them in real life. Each represents a kind of composite of multiple figures in Spinoza’s life. Hopefully we’ll hear from some Spinoza readers–and our dramaturg Steve Spotswood–as to how Ives’ characters both adhere and depart from the history. And to what affect.
And what of the dissenting critical view with respect to performance? Here, Lisa Traiger of the Washington Jewish Week finds fault in the production’s otherwise highly lauded performances. What to make of it, coming as it does, later than all the other reviews? Is this as much a churlish response to the rapturous reception as to the performance itself?
Curious how others respond to these two pieces, our first less-than-rapturous takes on the production. Methinks this is healthy.
Two brilliant features this week — really, some great information based marketing, having our best and brightest talents talk about a scintillating new play of ideas: what could be better publicity?
Really good write ups here. Couldn’t be more excited:
Check out David Ives on Spinoza and New Jerusalem in DC Theatrescene
and then enjoy this morning’s Backstage piece (two pix, one of Alexander Strain above the fold on page C1 of the Post) which gives lots of great space to our director, Jeremy Skidmore, who has animated this production in a wholly invigorating way, using our space as never before. Check out the Washington Post feature here.