It is interesting how the theatre we have scheduled dovetails. For the longest time, we had planned to see Finks, at Rogue Machine Theatre (FB) in Venice: a story about artists having to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee. But then my wife got involved with sisterhood at our congregation, and they scheduled a theatre night on top of Finks. So I arranged to move our Finks tickets Sunday night, and we arranged to go to the Sisterhood show. By now, I’m sure you’re asking: What show was it?
Funny that you should ask. The show was called The Accidental Activist, and it was a presentation of the Jewish Women’s Theatre (FB). The show, which was much like an evening at The Moth, was less a fully-staged theatrical production (with sets and costumes and the whole gevalt) and more a staged reading. The show consisted of 11 short stories — all true to my knowledge — built around the theme of being thrust into activism. These stories were:
- Try Not to Get Killed (Linda Geffin)
- Political Positions (Alan Zweibel)
- Legacy (Janet Madden)
- Green New Day (Vicki Juditz (FB))
- Accidential Activism:
- My Blessed Journey (Elaine G. F. Hall)
- Uncle Simon (Arva Rose)
- Born and Born and Born and Born (Chef Rossi)
- Comfort Station (Darcy Heller Sternberg)
- The Chairs (Libby Schwartz)
- Do Not Pray in the Cave (Rosanne Ziering)
I won’t attempt to summarize the stories here. I can say that all were interesting, many were very touching, and all fit with the theme. I did find quite a few of them inspiring — especially after a week of thinking about the impact of Jewish Summer camp on my life and seeing how it has instilled activism in people. They were certainly worth hearing.
I’m sure you’re curious about which ones are sticking with me the most. I think the ones that struck a nerve with me were My Blessed Journey, The Chairs, and Worthy of Love. Why did they stick? That’s harder to say. What I think I can reliably say is that that at least one or two of the stories will resonate with you, and that this production (if it comes near you) is worth seeing.
The stories were performed by four actors: Arva Rose, Vicki Juditz (FB), Emma Berdie Donson, and Robert Keller. All were strong. I urge you to pay special attention to their faces during the performances, for they do a great job of becoming different characters, as opposed to just reading the story.
The production was adapted, curated, and produced by Ronda Spinak (FB), with additional production by Suzanna Kaplan. Susie Yure and Rose Ziff were Associate Producers. The production was directed by Susan Morgenstern. Barbara Koletsky was the Asst. Producer and Stage Manager. Daphna Shull was the Artistic Associate.
I don’t know when JWT will be doing this production again, but they do have a show, Not That Jewish, coming up in early December and three shows schedules so far for 2019. Information is available at the Jewish Women’s Theatre (FB) website.
Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), and the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.
Sunday brings our second show of the weekend: Finks at Rogue Machine Theatre (FB). Thanksgiving weekend has Steambath at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble (FB) on Saturday and Remembering Boyle Heights at Casa 0101 (FB) in Boyle Heights on Sunday. December starts with the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC), followed by a hold for the Canadian Brass at the Saroya [the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB).
January is much more open, especially after the postponement of Bat Out of Hell at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Right now, all there is is a Nefesh Mountain concert at Temple Judea and a hold for the Colburn Orchestra at the Saroya [nee the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB) but the rest of the month is currently open (as few shows run in January due to complicated rehearsals over the holidays). We’ll keep our eyes open. February starts with the Cantor’s Concert at Temple Ahavat Shalom (FB), Hello Dolly at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), and Anna Karenena at Actors Co-op (FB). There’s also a HOLD for 1776 at the Saroya [nee the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB), and Lizzie at the Chance Theatre, but much of February is also open.
As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-Lemons, Musicals in LA, @ This Stage, Footlights, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.