Wednesday, December 02, 2009

“Harmful Side Effects May Occur” Maven in Fanwood, NJ
By Vicky Glikin

How lucky can a girl get? Not only did I have the opportunity to write and perform my very first start-to-finish show with a terrific partner, fellow cantorial student Joshua Breitzer, but we also got to perform the show twice! 2 for the price of 1 = AWESOME. Our Maven for Parsha Toldot “Harmful Side Effects May Occur” first premiered on Monday, November 16 at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC). On Friday November 20, Joshua and I brought the same show to Temple Sholom in Fanwood, NJ, a 230 family Reform congregation where I serve as the Student Cantor.

As you might have read in Joshua’s reflection on our HUC performance, our Maven centered on a restless Jacob the night before he reunited with Esau. The bullseye: how can we take care of our loved ones while pursuing our individual visions? While the show was written specifically for the HUC community, Joshua and I kept the audience of Temple Sholom in mind throughout our creative process. Originally, we played with the idea of having different bullseye questions for the two communities. However, in the end we decided that the same bullseye would be relevant and enticing to both communities. Thus, with the exception of minor details, such as the examples we provided for calling up the aliyot, we performed an almost identical show twice. Or, did we?

While the show was basically the same both times, the experience of doing it twice demonstrated to me that the Mavens (or, Mavens-In-Training in our case) write and perform the show, but it is ultimately the members of the audience who morph and shape the tale into its final form. While we guide the stretch and provide pointers for the direction of the conversation, the overall affect of the stretch and the show itself are hinged on the goodwill, investment, and creativity of the audience. Thus, the show and the lessons gathered from it by the audience were different at Temple Sholom than they had been just a couple of days earlier at HUC. Some of the pleasant surprises from the Temple Sholom performance included the unabashed participation from about ten sixth graders, who were present at the performance, as well as the very deep insights from the adult audience members. Regardless of age, most of the audience members were experiencing Storahtelling for the first time and they absolutely loved experiencing Torah in such an exciting new way. What an honor to be a part of their first such journey and discovery!

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