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Theater, museum, and JCC will be ‘Exploring Jewish Voices’
July 1st, 2012
When C. Michael Wright, director of the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre realized that the authors of three of the plays in their coming season’s line up were Jewish, he contacted Jewish Museum Milwaukee and the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center to explore the possibility of a larger collaboration.
“The three plays are by three strong Jewish playwrights [and] it occurred to me that they are all from different generations,” he told The Chronicle in a recent interview. “We have had wonderful relationships [with the JMM and JCC] and would like to continue these relationships.”
The result is “Exploring Jewish Voices,” a partnership of the company, JMM, and the JCC to provide a series of educational and outreach opportunities to the Milwaukee Jewish community.
The collaboration begins with “A Midsummer Night’s Preview” on Thursday, July 12, 7 p.m. MCT staff members and guest artists Wright, Jonathan West, Tom Klubertanz, and Jacque Troy will discuss the season and present readings from each play.
The preview will be at JMM, 1360 N. Prospect Ave., and is free for JMM members and $5 for non-members.
The three relevant productions in MCT’s 2012-2013 season are “A Thousand Clowns” by Herb Gardner (Aug. 9-26), “Collected Stories” by Donald Margulies (Nov. 21–Dec. 16), and “Underneath the Lintels” by Glen Berger (Feb. 21–March 17).
“A Thousand Clowns” is a comedy from the 1960s about Murray Burns, who would rather go to the movies than look for a job, but also has to raise his nephew.
“Collected Stories” is about a renowned, reclusive short story writer and her relationship with a young protégée.
In “Underneath the Lintels,” a Dutch librarian discovers in the overnight return slot a travel guidebook 113 years overdue. The librarian, who has never left his hometown, travels the world to find the offender.
Of all three plays, Molly Dubin, JMM program director, said: “Their themes include the Jewish voices and how they change from generation to generation within and in relationship to others.” The plays explore “how people are influenced by events in history, culture, and within families, and how these events influence thoughts and actions, and how they change.”
Each production will feature a pre-show “ViewPoints” lecture by an expert in Jewish culture and a “Jewish Community Ticket” performance featuring a post show talkback led by JCC Judaic Educator Jody Hirsh.
Although the special events will focus on Jewish themes, culture, and history, the programs will be accessible and relevant to all MCT patrons. Discounted tickets will be available to JMM and JCC members.
JMM educator Ellie Gettinger and Dubin are working with MCT education director/literary manager Jacque Troy on several education initiatives for students and adults.
For “Collected Stories,” they will offer workshops to area high schools about using playwriting to capture one’s own story. Students will then attend a matinee performance of the play.
For “Underneath the Lintel,” Troy will lead a one-day theatrical writing workshop at the JMM on March 3, which includes an opportunity for participants to write short scenes that either explore their own stories or reflect their response to an artifact at the museum.
All MCT productions will be held at the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway. For more about “Exploring Jewish Voices” and its associated events, contact the MCT box office, 414-291-7800, or the JMM, 414-390-5730.
Dubin added that these MCT performances are part of a much larger year of Jewish content in the Milwaukee theater scene:
• The Milwaukee Repertory Theater will present “The Diary of Anne Frank” Oct. 23-Dec. 2.
• First Stage Children’s Theater Jan. 25-Feb. 10 will stage “To The Promised Land,”a Milwaukee-based world premierplay that, in part, tells the story of Golda Meir, Israel’s Milwaukee-raised fourth prime minister.
• Renaissance Theaterworks will collaborate with Cardinal Stritch University (and the JMM) to present the story of a Holocaust rescuer, “Irena’s Vow,” Oct. 26-28 and Nov. 2-4.
“It is not often that we have so many performances with Jewish themes or by Jewish playwrights in one year,” said Dubin.
Diana Kahn is a Milwaukee educator and freelance writer.