more on seven jewish children

my two theaters Forum and Theater J are collaborating on Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children later this month.  The controversial play enabled Forum to get their first mention in the New York Times (I know it shouldn’t matter but we all know it does). There’s also an article in today’s Washington Post. Theater J’s blog has also been receiving some heavy lashings, all from one very outspoken gentleman it seems.

When the J will be presenting the play they are planning on filling up the evening not only with discussions but with other response plays.  I haven’t read the plays so I can’t comment on what they say, either in response to Churchill’s play or to the situation in the Middle East. However, there is something that automatically makes me feel upset about these responses.  Or rather, not about these responses but about the responses that don’t exist.

It seems to me that what Caryl Churchill did was write a play because that is the only way she knew how to express her anger at what she saw happening in Gaza.  Theses responders wrote their plays because of anger at Caryl Churchill and her play. Do you see the difference?  I wish that more Israeli and American Jewish artists would make pieces that were pro-active not reactionary.  It just goes back to these discussions that are so difficult to have. People don’t want to say anything potentially offensive because that may mean that they hate Israel and the Jewish people. It’s so frustrating. You can love a people, you can love a land and you can still look at injustice and call it by name.

Like I said, I haven’t read these people’s scripts. But I wish they had written them before Churchill penned hers. I wish at the first injustice Jewish artists could speak up creatively and express their side, what they think, what pains them, what moves them instead of waiting for someone else to speak up and then getting angered that the full story isn’t told.

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One Response to more on seven jewish children

  1. Jeff Epton says:

    In producing “Seven Jewish Children,” Ari Roth and Theatre J are doing something valuable. If I were more deeply immersed in my own Jewishness, I might call the production “a mitzvah.” I can’t comment about the other plays that will be part of the evening of performance at Theatre J for the same reason you don’t. I haven’t read them. But the point you make about the apparent difference between Churchill’s desire to express her perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the seemingly reactionary nature of the “response” scripts written by others, is well taken.

    I’d go further in adding that the range of permissable discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn’t very broad to begin with, and is vigorously policed, primarily by American Jews, who are way too quick to cry anti-semitism at the expression of even implied criticism of Israel; a kind of hyper-zionist border patrol.

    The long-term effects of this policing have resulted in substantial, unequivocal and official U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and for the relentless expansion of Israeli settlements even when Israelis themselves are divided about the wisdom of such policies. Such support has helped to create an untenable state of affairs in Israel and Palestine where the long-term interests of both Israelis and Palestinians are consistently subordinated to the interests of theocracy, foreign agendas and the dead hand of a ghoulish, but still vital, imperialism.

    These are just a few of the interests and impulses Theatre J must resist in order to stage “Seven Jewish Children.” It does that institution great honor that it will proceed to do so in any case.

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