Friday, May 16, 2008

Becoming Israel World Premiere

By Jake Goodman

Storah On The Road

Storahtelling held its world premiere of Becoming Israel on May 14th at the JCC in Manhattan, marking Israel’s 60th anniversary.  It was spectacular.  Although I had nothing to do with the creative process of this production, I must say that I have never felt more proud to be a Storahteller.  The JCC’s theater was sold out—over 200 people saw this performance and $45,000 was raised for Storahtelling in ticket sales alone.  Throughout the performance, I looked around and saw a sea of completely attentive people, many with tears in their eyes.  Afterwards, every single person stayed for a talkback in which person after person gushed to share her/his experience watching the play:  they felt compelled to share how moved they felt, how important this play is, how they wish more people could see it, how they cherished the fact that they heard multiple perspectives and left with more questions than answers.  The play was performed again the next night at the JCC by a different Storahtelling cast, and was again followed by a steady flow of laudatory feedback from the packed audience.  Finally, the play was also given a staged reading at the UJA on the 15th by Shira Epstein and Naomi Less.  As a member of Storahtelling, I feel that I am very much part of something incredibly innovative, deep, high quality, timely and vital. 
Because they deserve great credit, here are the casts and creative teams for both performances)
May 14th:  Elana Bell, David Schiller and Franny Silverman
May 15th:  Jonathan Riddleberger, Sarah Sokolic and Emily Warshaw
Concept by Amichai Lau-Lavie
Created & Written by Amichai Lau-Lavie, Annie Levy, Shawn Shafner, Melissa Shaw, Franny Silverman & Emily Warshaw
Directed by Annie Levy
Stage Managed by Shani Murfin
Original Sound Design by Katie Down
Finally, allow me to share some of the feedback we received:
“The performance  of Becoming Israel was exquisitely moving, beautifully acted, wonderfully directed and staged, and created by a Creator. We cannot thank you enough.”
“In less than a year, Erev Yom Kippur, and last night, Storahtelling gave us spiritual and community engagement for which there was no precedent in our lives.”
“Extraordinary evening-  I know that your interpretation will accompany me in the nights of my wrestlings, as I am hopefully becoming... I am deeply grateful for your teachings.”
“Not a dry eye in the crowd.  Amazingly smart, and the acting and performance really connected with the audience.”
“This is such an interesting combination of an educational as well as entertainment experience.”
“Wonderful showcase of the talent of Storahtelling”
“I was completely wowed by last evening's display of creativity, depth, emotion.  Wrestling, indeed.  What better way to frame the situation ... You have managed to touch upon just about every issue in the Israeli dialogue -- from the Shoah, the Arab Israeli issue, the relations between American and Israeli Jews, the unaffiliated Jew, the rationale for a Jewish state, the text, sibling rivalry (American/Israeli, Arab/Israeli), etc.  The list can go on and on ... The opportunities moving forward with this production are limitless.”

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