To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the state of Israel, Theatre Ariel is presenting Israeli Love Stories, a performance drawn from the acclaimed podcast Israel Story, which, in turn, was inspired by NPR’s This American Life.
All of the stories are true, everyday experiences of present-day Israelis, and have aired on the podcast. They showcase modern tales in an ancient land, told by and about Israelis. The show will be presented in private homes “concert style,” with actors delivering dramatic readings of the stories using voice and gesture. Israeli Love Stories comprises five stories curated by Director Deborah Baer Mozes from the entire collection of Israel Story podcasts.
“Four years, ago my daughter introduced me to the podcast Israel Story. I have been hooked on it ever since,” Baer Mozes said. “I knew I wanted to do something with the material and, a while back, I had the opportunity to meet with the booking agent in New York. We then corresponded back and forth, and I was able to gain permission to use the material for my performance.
“I listened to the entire collection of podcasts again, around 38 in all, and I chose my favorites. The five I chose all had a common theme: love. I decided to focus on this universal experience. The show then began to take shape, and it all came together. My goal was to express my love for Israel, so the theme of love worked perfectly.”
A former director of culture for the Consulate General of Israel, Baer Mozes has a strong connection to the Israel.
“I am a passionate Zionist, so this seemed like the perfect way for me to honor the 70th anniversary of the birth of the state. The beauty of the five stories is that each reflects a different aspect of Israeli life. One is set on a kibbutz, another centers around the IDF. There is a story that focuses on an ultra-Orthodox couple, another that features a relationship between an Israeli and a Palestinian, and finally one about a gay couple.
“They all highlight the moment of discovery — that thunderbolt realization of ‘I’m in love,’ and they also explore how to stay in love. The collection really encompasses a lot about contemporary Israel and about life in general.”
Because the stories are true, written by real people about real experiences, they are relatable and accessible. Baer Mozes described the show as “down to earth,” telling stories of people we know and understand.
The cast for Israeli Love Stories includes actors Alana Gerlach, Anthony Mustafa Adair, Ahren Potratz and Michaela Shuchman. Because the podcasts also feature music, Baer Mozes included that element in the show. She recruited renowned Philadelphia musicians Chana Rothman and Daniella Forstater, who will perform in Hebrew traditional Israeli love songs between each skit.
Founded in 1990, Theatre Ariel bills itself as Pennsylvania’s only professional theater dedicated to illuminating the social, cultural and spiritual heritage of the Jewish people; it has created and commissioned 79 new works. Israeli Love Stories is presented in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Jewish Coalition of Bucks County.
The performance runs approximately 90 minutes, with a discussion and dessert reception immediately following. Two shows have already occurred, with additional performances scheduled for April 28 at 8:30 p.m. and April 29 at 7 p.m. These weekend performances will be held in Main Line homes; once attendees buy tickets they will be informed of the performance location.
There is also a Bucks County performance set for 7 p.m. on April 30 at Shir Ami in Newtown.
Israeli Love Stories is part of Theatre Ariel’s Salon Series, which is designed to enable audiences to “take a trip away from the stage to experience theater inside your neighbor’s home.”
Keri White is a freelance writer and Jewish Exponent food columnist.