Monday, April 13, 2009

“A Little Taste of Freedom” at JCC Manhattan
by Jess Lenza
A Little Taste is a Lot of Fun!

When Shawn Shafner and I were paired up to create an interactive performance for the JCC that incorporated the entire story of Passover and chanting verses from the Torah, we were a little overwhelmed with the amount of information we had to integrate. With some hard work and guidance from the lovely Sarah Sokolic and Jake Goodman, we were able to build a solid structure. That was the first and most challenging step, but with that in place, we created a fun, educational experience for the JCC families and hopefully for future Storahtelling performances.

Our play focused on a young boy, Mo, who aspires to be a great drummer, but instead of being able to practice he is saddled with the responsibility of setting the seder plate. He receives help from his mysterious "aunt" Miriam who he has never met. She helps him discover the symbolism behind each of the foods included in the seder and how they relate to the story of Passover. Miriam draws Mo and the audience into the story with the aid of a few catchy songs and simple props.

We had a great turnout at the JCC. People of all ages attended and enjoyed the performance. Afterwards, Shawn led an amazing workshop that incorporated basic acting techniques and reinforced the main concepts of the show. The audience seemed pleased that the show appealed to both adults and children and that we tackled a lot of challenging ideas in a very short amount of time.

I am so proud to have been a part of this production. It was really rewarding to see all of our hard work materialize into a successful experience for our audience and I think it has the potential to be adapted and used in a variety of settings in the future. We were in a theater with a large audience, but this could easily be set for a religious school class where each student gets his/her own seder plate and a little taste of everything on it. There were a lot of great moments in the show, but my favorite part was being able to sing my signature song A Little Taste of Torah!

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