Every once in a while a person gets to partake in something truly remarkable. Thus far, for me, that has been my incredible honor to work on the play “Bad Jews” by talented new playwright Joshua Harmon. My former theater teacher, Rosemary Mallet, approached me a few months back when she learned I would be in California for a few months before moving to Florida, and informed me she was thinking of putting on a play entitle “Bad Jews”, and she was considering me for the starring role of hot-tempered Daphna Feygenbaum. Being thoroughly intrigued I looked up information about play, considered my other work and school commitments, and finally decided to undertake this amazing opportunity (if for no other reason than I’d be able to work with Rosemary again and get back on the stage). It was no small endeavor I undertook. There were 60 pages of dialogue, and my character had lines on nearly all of them. The show ran 1 hour and 40 minutes and I was either on stage or talking for most of that time. The memorization alone was daunting, but thankfully I didn’t have many distractions to pull my focus. It was 2 months of some of the hardest work I have done, but 6 shows (many of which were sold out), 6 standing ovations, rave reviews, and a dream cast and crew filled with immense talent, made it all worth it.
I have never had the privilege of working with a more talented cast and crew. Rosemary Mallet has a career spanning decades, with students going on to work in Hollywood, Broadway, film, television, and more. This lady really knows her stuff, and it would have been a real misfortune both personally and professionally had I passed up this opportunity to work with her on what may very well be her last play with Desert Ensemble Theater Company. Eve Fromberg, our assistant director, brought a whole new light to “Bad Jews”, and really helped each of the cast members grasp the reality of our individual characters, and the relationships between characters. There are not enough positive things I can say about the incredible actors in this ensemble cast. From old friends to new, I was able to work with the incredible Sean Brown, who I had the pleasure of working with in high school in the play “A Piece of my Heart”, the immensely talented Cameron Shingler, who moved out to California to pursue his dream of acting, and the hysterically lovable Kyrsten Watt, who brought down the house each night with her incredible performances. It was an honor and a privilege working with each member of our 6 person team, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world.
The play itself centers around three cousins (2 brothers – Liam and Jonah, and Daphna (Diana) Feygenbaum) who just lost their grandfather. The play takes place in Jonah and Liam’s New York City apartment the night after the funeral (which Liam missed because he was on a skiing trip), where all these cousins are thrown together with Liam’s very non-Jewish girlfriend, Melody. The play delves into inheritance issues, interfaith marriage, family dynamics, and more centered on this Jewish family, and brings up many issues faced by Jewish families living in the Diaspora in the 21st century. For me, as an American Jew who just returned from living in Israel for five years (where I became a legal Israeli citizen), this play held special significance, as it brought up serious issues Jews face in the Diaspora, and it highlighted a culture that is rapidly assimilating – much to the chagrin of the more traditional and religious Jews. If anything, being in this play reaffirmed my feelings that America needs strong Jews to ensure that our culture survives and thrives, and to ensure Israel will always have the support of her strongest Western ally. Does this make me racist? Does this make me elitist? Some might think so, but the fact remains that I am a Jew, my husband will be a Jew, my children will be Jewish and will be raised Jewish, and this can’t be compromised. To do so would be doing the greatest disservice to my faith, religion, and culture – pretty heavy stuff that came from a little play!!
I hope everyone has a chance to see this play wherever it is being shown. It really is an incredible show that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster through modern Jewish American families. It’s a must see for everyone, and it was a true honor to be involved! Even though it is over, Bad Jews will be with me for a long, long time, and I’m very thankful for that!
Well that’s about all for now. Passover is still in full swing and I have done my best to try and stick to a pretty Paleo diet during the holiday. Up until now I’ve only had one piece of Matzah, which is a huge success for me. I feel really healthy and I haven’t even really missed chametz or kitniyot, especially with the discovery of cauliflower rice and lettuce wrapped burgers!
I miss you every second of every day, Friend, and I love you for all my life.
Until we meet again <3,