The stages may be closed, but the show must go on.
Two theatrical productions from members of Philadelphia’s Jewish community are set to premiere this weekend. Both have made the transition online to reach audiences during the quarantine.
“Untold: A 10-Minute Playfest” is the brainchild of Aimee Goldstein and Doriane Feinstein. Originally set to be performed live at Wings of Paper Theatre Co., the show now will be an audio-based experience similar to that of a podcast or radio play. It will be released on YouTube in two parts at 7:30 p.m. on May 29 and 30 It’s free to listen to and financially supported by the group’s GoFundMe.
Feinstein, a playwright and 2019 Tribe 12 fellow, was inspired to put on a two-day festival of 10-minute plays and approached Goldstein to co-produce. Macie Poskarbiewicz was brought on to direct, and half a dozen plays were selected from about 40 submissions. Each play loosely addressed the theme of stories or something that is “untold.”
“These are unconventional pieces,” Feinstein said. “So I hope people can see the messages and the meanings of these plays, and understand that we are allowed to talk about these things. And, in fact, we should be talking about these things that make us uncomfortable.”
The plays include “My Gay Lifestyle” by Domenick Scudera, “Night Ride” by Mark Cofta, “Reflect” by Devin T. Randall, “Rejected Transplant” by Caitlin Cieri, “Running” by Reva Stover and “Intimate Life” by Doriane Feinstein. Each performance is followed by an interview with the cast and crew.
“The thing I want people to get out of it is just sort of a sense of thought,” Goldstein said. “It’s fun, and you get to hear someone else’s perspective and think about something you probably would never have thought about during
Another theatrical production premiering the same weekend comes from Theatre Ariel.
“The Scribe” is the second one-man show created and performed by playwright Jesse Bernstein. The 70-minute show is a historical fiction piece set in Jerusalem around 444 BCE.
The story follows a nameless apprentice scribe who is tasked with compiling various literary works together into the Torah. Since college, Bernstein said he’s been fascinated with the creation of the Torah, in particular the hypothesis that various parts were written by different people and it was one person who brought it all together into a single text. He kicked around the idea for the show for quite some time, deciding to bring it to life after the success of his previous show, “Ethics of the Father.”
Bernstein’s goal is to entertain and inspire others to approach the Torah, whether familiar or unfamiliar with the text, in a new light.
“The Scribe” will be livestreamed via Zoom at 7 p.m. on May 27, 8 p.m. on May 30 and 2 p.m. on May 31. Tickets are available at TheatreAriel.org and include a Zoom link to the shows.
Bernstein said it’ll be an unusual experience to do a live reading from his apartment, but it is one he looks
“It’s weird,” he said. “Not having performed this in front of an audience and only doing it via Zoom where I can’t see their reactions, I can’t hear any laughs or any other kind of response, is odd and a little nerve-wracking.”
Theatre Ariel Artistic Director Deborah Baer Mozes said the organization initially planned on postponing the show to June, but as the quarantine progressed, decided to do it virtually. She said Bernstein’s previous livestreamed show drew in thousands of viewers from across the country, a feat the theater hopes to replicate along with the traditional theater experience. In keeping with a dessert reception tradition, ticket holders were emailed a cookie and sangria recipe to make their own treats.
“We’re trying as much as possible to give the audience a salon Ariel experience via Zoom,” Mozes said. “It’s just really a perfect play for these times when we’re in isolation because it’s a very thoughtful play about faith.”