AJT Conference Hosted by ShPIeL Performing Identity
2018 AJT THEATREMACHERS
Thoughts from Jeremy Aluma
In October 2018 I attended the Alliance for Jewish Theatres Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as an AJT Theatremacher Fellow with five others. It was my first time attending the conference. And it is impossible for me not to look back on it and not remember, that only four days later, a white supremacist murdered eleven Jewish worshipers at the Tree of Life Congregation, in Pittsburgh. This reignited hatred requires a response from the Jewish people. These two events tell me that we must speak up for ourselves and our values. We must tell people our stories and remind how connected we all truly are.
Judaism and theatre are my lifeforce. The two flow through me like the inhale and exhale of breath — two aspects of my identity which cannot exist without the other. Becoming a more thoughtful, aware, and committed Jew makes me a stronger theatre director. Becoming a more innovative, open, and inspired theatre artist intensifies my connection with Judaism. I create theatre as an offering, a gateway to greater empathy. This is what we continuously strive for: Tikkun Olam — a more inclusive society.
The AJT Conference was an opportunity for me to tap into the zeitgeist of the national conversation around Jewish Theatre. And this was as I was wrestling with these questions when I directed The Dybbuk: Are we white? Have we been white for thousands of years? Do we have to cast Jewish plays with white-looking actors? What is our responsibility in speaking about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict? Why are so many Jewish plays written about the upper-middle class Jewish experience? Why doesn’t Jewish theatre tap more into its supernatural roots? Who has a right to perform in our plays? Write our plays? Direct our plays? How can we hold our Jewish values within the plays we produce?
These are some of the questions I am constantly struggling with in my work and by being an AJT Theatremacher at the conference allowed me a place to hear how the rest of the Jewish theatre community is tackling these issues. This year the conference is in Chicago, my hometown, and I am a part of the planning committee. I am thrilled to be a part of the planning committee for the conference in Chicago so I can help facilitate discussions around the issues that matter to me and my fellow Jewish theatre-makers. I also look forward to seeing more AJT Theatremachers, who are the new gen for Jewish Theatre!
A DYBBUK by S. Ansky adapted by Tony Kushner, directed by Jeremy Aluma at The Theatre School at DePaul University
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Young and Emerging Jewish Theatremachers Application
The AJT Theatremachers program is generously supported by the Covenant Foundation. It provides conference fee subsidies for selected artists. Applications accepted through September 1, 2019.
Call for Solo Performers’ and Playwrights’ Showcase
A panel of peers will curate short-plays/sections from longer plays and solo performances for the Solo Performers’ and Playwrights’ Showcase. Pieces will be accepted on the basis of quality and Jewishness as defined by theatre-maker. All pieces must be performed for 8-minutes or less.