AJT News Update
ACCOLADES TO ALLIANCE FOR JEWISH THEATRE CONFERENCE
(David Chack pictured with Deborah receiving RBG action figure)
(Deborah pictured with Toby Greenwald, artistic director, Raise Your Spirits Theatre in Israel, holding a megillah)
(Adam Immerwahr, artistic director, Theater J, Washington, D.C., pictured above)
Various other gleanings from the AJT Conference:
"Things I liked: I liked the shorter conference…Getting new people in the room Adam's keynote…The artistic director roundtable…The banquet awards…The sharpness of the planning.The organization of the event – David Chack, Deborah Baer Mozes, and Jesse Bernstein were on top of their games.
Bottom Line: OUTSTANDING CONFERENCE!! I appreciated it all."
Adam Kantor's Keynote, AJT’ers in Rapt Attention
“The last time I had to get up and speak, continuously, for so long, in front of so many Jews, was my Bar Mitzvah torah portion. So I think it only fitting to begin this morning with...Barechu et adonai hamvorach...(audience will respond: “barechu et adonai hamvorach”) Very good. We are already engaging in the kind of theatre I love to see, and that I’d love to see more of, which is interactive...It feels both ancient and progressive...
Jewish Theatre must keep up with this trend to be contemporary and meaningful today. Jewish theatre will only survive and thrive if it’s redefined for a new generation, both in its form and content. We have an obligation, as migrants ourselves, to open up our doors to these stories, to hear them, to listen, and to engage with them meaningfully. And to bring to our theatres not only jews to hear explicitly jewish stories, but human beings, and wider communities to engage with live storytelling because it means something to them…
I’m doing The Band’s Visit right now on Broadway, which I absolutely love, and although it takes place in Israel, it could really be anywhere. I don’t see it as a particularly Jewish piece necessarily. It’s so universal. It’s about humans and their need to connect, to be heard, seen, and answered. In a way, it is about God, and my song, the 11 o’clock number called “Answer Me”, is in many ways, a prayer for connection, a plea to the source of love, or God. But not necessarily in a Jewish sense, or any religious sense. It’s written by, directed by, and starring a bunch of jews, but not necessarily dealing with any essential pressing explicitly Jewish questions. It’s universal and I stand by it wholeheartedly. That being said: I really think the questions we must be asking, as American Jewish Theatre practitioners, are those related to origin stories, migration, exodus, and defining home, and telling those stories in a way that feels immediate for this generation, replete with interactivity and immersiveness. To that end, I’ll finish like I started...Barechu et adonai hamvorach...Thanks.”
2018 FRIEND-RAISING/FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN
This year’s campaign was the best since receiving our non-profit status five years ago. We are so excited to have not only raised the funds needed for operation - but to also gain more memberships and more Alliance for Jewish Theatremakers in our orbit.
THANK YOU ALL.
We particularly want to thank:
Dr. Henrik Eger
Jewish Repertory Theatre–JCC Buffalo
Jewish Womens Theatre
Michelle Kholos Brooks
National Jewish Theatre
Samuel A Simon
Mel Weiser and Joni Browne-Walders
The most recent AJT Pop-Up was at the Center for Jewish History at the staged reading of the most recently published play Out of the Depths by acclaimed author Chaim Potok (z”l - posthumously). He and his wife Adena were honored at this year’s conference. Adena is a member of the board of Theatre Ariel in Philadelphia and a member of the Alliance.
Hank Kimmel’s highlights: “The pop-up event in New York City last Sunday was fantastic. It took place at the Center for Jewish History on West 16th Street (www.cjh.org) and featured Chaim Potok’s play Out of the Depths. First, the play was brilliant, engaging, challenging, touching and relevant. The play is from "The Collected Plays of Chaim Potok" edited by Rena Potok (Chaim’s daughter who was at past conference in Philly).
Consider getting the collected works of Chaim Potok. It includes 4 plays -- for about $30 -- a real deal if you think about it. Out of the Depths is about the life of S. Ansky, a playwright, ethnographer, and activist who traversed Russia, Paris, Switzerland, Vilna and Warsaw leading up to writing his masterpiece, The Dybbuk. Here’s a link to the Monkfish Books website. And if there’s interest in staging the plays, directors or producers should contact Mel Berger at William Morris Entertainment for rights: firstname.lastname@example.org. And I urge AJTers in New York City and beyond to check out the Center for Jewish History offerings. The Center presents the kind of programming that would befit a lot of the work that’s coming out of our orbit. And we aim to do more and more with non-traditional theatre presenters -- museums, cultural centers, synagogues and more.”
In light of the rise of anti-Semitism and the Pittsburgh Massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue, David Chack and Judy Gold will have a public conversation entitled Artists Facing Anti-Semitism.
Judy Gold is an Emmy Award winning comedy writer and stand-up comedian, actor (Off-Broadway in 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother and The Judy Gold Show: My Life as a Sitcom), and producer. She was featured in the film Making Trouble, a tribute to female Jewish comedians produced by the Jewish Women’s Archives.
David Y. Chack is Executive Director of the Alliance for Jewish Theatre, the Producing Artistic Director of ShPIeL-Performing Identity Theatre based in Chicago and the Bunbury-ShPIeL Identity Theatre in Louisville. He is also teaches Jewish Theatre, Holocaust Theatre and Identity Theatre at The Theatre School at DePaul University.
This is an un-ticketed “first come, first served" event and is part of the Conney Conference on Jewish Arts from the University of Wisconsin.
ALLIANCE FOR JEWISH THEATRE BOARD
President Hank Kimmel–Working Title Playwrights, Atlanta; VP Ralph Meranto–Center Stage Theatre Rochester, NY; VP Doug Brook–playwright, director, Executive Director, Silicon Valley Shakespeare, San Jose, CA; VP Jordana Halpern–Managing Director, Jewish Repertory Theatre of Western New York, Buffalo; VP Deborah Baer Mozes–Artistic Director, Theatre Ariel, Philadelphia; Treasurer Susan Lodish–director, Philadelphia; Secretary Jesse Bernstein–actor, director, Philadelphia; Communications/Marketing Wendy Kout–playwright, screenwriter, Santa Barbara; Immediate Past President David Chack–Producing Artistic Director, ShPIeL, Performing Identity, Chicago
Ronda Spinak–Co-Founder, Artistic Director, Jewish Women’s Theatre, Los Angeles; Roy Horowitz–Theatre director, actor, Tel Aviv; Jon Adam Ross–InHEIRitance Project, New York; Toby Greenwald–director Efrat, Israel; Yoni Oppenheim–Artistic Director, 24/6 A Jewish Theater Co., New York; Robyn Israel–playwright; Jeremy Aluma–director, Chicago
EX OFFICIO (non-voting)
Mira Hirsch–director Atlanta; Robert Skloot–Holocaust Theatre scholar; Ellen Schiff–Jewish Theatre scholar; Honorary Board: Tovah Feldshuh–distinguished actor; Adam Kantor–distinguished actor; Theodore Bikel (z”l - in memoriam)–world-celebrated performer