Reflections on the Theatre
As a special treat for our blog readers, we’re taking this Friday to do a bit of a blog round up. Our bloggers often explore areas of entertainment, and nothing gets us writing more than a good night out at the theatre. Check out these five incredibly diverse blog entries, each focusing on a different aspect of the stage.
Jackie Hoffman, beloved in theatrical circles for her take-no-prisoners approach to musical comedy (sample lyric: "f-- you for asking me to do a show for free! / f-- you and your benefit for charity"), is at once an ideal and a challenging performer for such a series. Undeniably funny and with a deep understanding of Judaism (she's the black sheep of an Orthodox family), she knows she can draw a typical Jewish audience in with songs criticizing Jewish Buddhists ("Inner peace and joy are overrated / come back to the fold of the most-hated") and pushy mothers on Manhattan's Upper West Side. But when her paean to Shavuot includes lines like "Ten Commandments God gave to us so that we won't sin again / Ten Commandments I break every day by eating pork and Christian men," you know this isn't your typical JCC fare.
Painting the World with True Colors: An Interview with Two Jewish Women Helping to Tell an Incredible Story by Etta King
Two years ago, I attended my first performance by True Colors: OUT Youth Theater. True Colors was founded byThe Theater Offensive, New England’s premier LGBT theater company. It trains lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth, and their straight allies (LGBTQQA) to write, produce, and perform shows inspired by own their lives and experiences. The stories that are told by the youth of True Colors are certainly their own, but they could also be mine or those of my friends. The pride, honesty, and effusive love of the actors dangles the audience in front of a mirror, reflecting the stories of despair, heartlessness, tenderness, and triumph in each of our communities.
For the next 90 minutes, I completely forgot about the world outside. I was transported first to Vienna in the late 1930s and then to London during the Blitz, as Mona Golabek combined dramatic storytelling and beautiful piano playing to trace the journey of her mother, Lisa Jura (a journey she recounts in her book, The Children of Willesden Lane).
The sheer awesomeness of Emotional Creature truly floored me. Walking out of the theater, I was at a loss for words and just kept repeating, “That was brilliant. That was brilliant. That was brilliant.” The play certainly was absolutely brilliant and extremely well-made. It featured six extremely talented women actors, all of whom played different characters in various scenes. They delivered a powerful message about the state of girls today, from upper-middle class Midwestern America to the exploitative factories of China. Although Emotional Creature dealt with some very serious topics, humor was sprinkled throughout the show, creating some comic relief and an interesting contrast.
But at one point, the performers hung small boxes around their necks and wandered out into the audience. With each actor addressing a small segment of the audience, he or she opened the boxes to reveal small stages and told stories illustrated by colorful puppets. Each story was different, each presentation personal. Then the actors rejoined and built the stories to a climax of music and movement that ended with the entire audience dancing with the performers onstage and off, until there was no difference between “onstage” and “offstage.” They had broken the audience apart, then joined us together. This, I thought, was what theatre could be, a Living Theatre.