Three Jewish playwrights to show works
Three plays chosen from submissions from across the United States and Canada will be presented during the Second Annual Across the Generations Play Festival sponsored by Congregation Dor Hadash, San Diego’s only Reconstructionist Synagogue.
“We are pleased to showcase the works of three talented Jewish playwrights in our festival, which provides them an opportunity to present their works before an audience without mounting a full production,” said artistic director Marcus Newman. “This year’s plays represent an exciting range of theater experiences and deal with family relationships and gender identities.”
Newman, a playwright and director, has directed about 40 stage projects in San Diego, including the Streisand Festival of New Jewish Plays. In 2006 he also wrote, produced and directed “Moms in America,” about three generations of American Jewish men.
Playwright Stephen Kaplan describes “Exquisite Potential” as “a funny and probing look at the bond between parent and child,” which asks the questions: What happens when a father comes to believe his little boy is, in fact, the Messiah and what happens when that boy grows up to be a man? Kaplan began his playwriting career in San Diego when his play “And Jack Came Tumbling After” won the California Young Playwrights Competition and was produced at the Old Globe Theater. A native of Los Angeles who currently lives in New Jersey, his other plays have seen productions at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Lincoln Center’s American Living Room, Union Square Theatre, L.A.’s Hudson Theatre, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He was commissioned to write “Six Seniors In Search Of An Ending,” a performance piece performed for President Bill Clinton. Formerly Assistant Principal/Chair of the Theatre Department at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (the “Fame” school) in Manhattan, Kaplan now teaches at Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, N.J.
Martha Jane Kaufman’s “A Live Dress” delves into the world of Yiddish theater and gender identities in New York in the 1920s. It was inspired by a 1923 New York Times review of an English-language production of a Yiddish play that included a lesbian relationship. The production was ultimately shut down, the cast arrested and tried on obscenity charges, leading Kaufman to wonder if this occurred because the actors were Jews or because of the lesbian relationship. Kaufman received the Jane Chambers Prize for Feminist Theater in 2010 for “A Live Dress.” A Huntington Theater Playwriting Fellow, she has received awards and commissions from the Huntington Theater, the Program for Women in Theater, the Playwrights’ Foundation, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, and Young Playwrights Inc. Originally from Portland, O.R., Kaufman attended Wesleyan University and is currently studying playwriting at the Yale School of Drama.
A joke about a father tricking his son into coming to visit for Pesach lies at the heart of “Stop Me if You’ve Heard this One” by Judy Klass. The play, focusing on a family’s Passover celebration, is a tribute to Klass’ father, who told her many of the stories, jokes, and songs she incorporated into her play. An experienced playwright and screenwriter, Klass’ full-length plays “Transatlantic and “Damage Control” have been produced in New York City; “Cell,” produced in Kentucky, was one of three plays nationwide nominated for a 2009 Edgar for best mystery play. Twenty of her one-act plays have been produced nationally, and she co-wrote the Showtime cable film “In the Time of the Butterflies,” based on the novel by Julia Alvarez.
Featured presentations begin Sat., July 16, at 8 p.m. and Sun., July 17, at 2 p.m. with a rehearsed staged reading of “Exquisite Potential” by Stephen Kaplan by experienced actors under direction of J Marcus Newman. The festival continues Mon., July 18, at 7 p.m. with “A Live Dress” by Martha Jane Kaufman and concludes with “Stop Me if You’ve Heard this One” by Judy Klass Tues., July 19, at 7 p.m. Actors and congregation members will read both plays in front of an audience.
All performances take place at Congregation Dor Hadash, 4858 Ronson Court, Suite A, Kearny Mesa. Tickets for “Exquisite Potential” are $10 adult/ $5 student at the door. Donations will be accepted for “A Live Dress and Stop Me if You’ve Heard this One.” For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (858) 268-3674.