Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Last Temptation of Moses

Denver, The LAB at Belmar

Saturday Night, Oct. 6 2007

By Amichai Lau-Lavie

Storah On The Road

"It was a great evening and I think a wonderful kick- off to the whole series. Amichai is amazing. It was funny, touching and very thought provoking...I loved it. I hope Amichai was happy with the evening. We had a pretty diverse audience which was great as well." - Jamie Polliard, Assistant Director of the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver.

The Lab at Belmar is a brand new performance venue in Denver, overlooking an ice-skating ring and from its balcony offers a breathtaking view of the mountains. Last Saturday night 150 people gathered here for an evening of sacred story, climbing up a mountain in the footsteps of the dying Moses. This was the first event as part of my six weeks residency in Denver, as scholar and artist in residence at the University of Denver's S'hema program – a year long focus on 'what Jewish culture sounds like'

As soon as the show was over, an elderly gentleman walked over to me with tears streaming down his cheeks. 'You made me cry', he told me, 'and I haven't cried in ten years. I didn't come here expecting this at all.' Another audience member came right after him – a young woman who works for the University of Denver's Public Relations team – 'you were really funny! I didn't think the Bible could be funny!' Following her were several rabbis, a team from a Baptist church in town and a dozen or so young students from DU, all of them sharing interesting feedback that has mostly to do with their surprise at what 'The Last Temptation of Moses' had to offer them – a totally different theatrical experience.

Based on the original Bible text for Simchat Torah – in which Moses dies, the Torah ends, and the world is created again as Genesis starts, this performance went the gamut from the death to the birth, with a lot of breathing in between. The highlight for me was the last minute addition of Danya Rivlin – an amazing singer who chanted, sang and filled the room with a soft but penetrating voice. Ayal Rivlin – her newly wed husband, and Ariel – a local percussionist added the music. Ayal and I know each other since the mid 90's, in Israel – and this was the first time we got to really play together. It was, we both knew right away – the beginning of many more to come.

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