Monthly Archives: March 2009


Thanks to all who came out this weekend for our reading performances of SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN and joined in on the discussions.   We appreciated all of your contributions.  Have more to say?  Leave us a comment below.

You can find the complete script here.  This is the original script, with no charater assignments.


3/26 MARISOL OpenForum Recap

Thanks to all who came out in the rain for last night’s show and a really great OpenForum talkback afterwards—I think we just about had the entire audience join us for the discussion.  And a special thanks to Colin Hovde for bringing in a group of designers from the Kennedy Center’s foreign exchange program who made up most of the crowd.

Naturally a lot of the conversation covered the technical side of the show, from the fact that we had our sound designer playing tracks with us in rehearsals, to the number of cues in the show (over 300, according to super SM Jenn, 100 of which happen in the 1st 10 minutes of the play!) and the seamless collaboration between lights & sound, as well as our fantastic costumes.  We also touched on the aggressive nature of the play and the production as a whole, from Rivera’s arresting words, to the enveloping design and the heightened performances.  It was a fantastic conversation and thanks again to all who made it out.

“Tell Her the Truth” by Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon

The readings of SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN by Caryl Churchill moves to Forum tonight. The reading will be followed by selected responses and an OpenForum discussion.  Read the Washington Post‘s article on Wednesday’s discussion, at Theater J, here.

Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon have written a response to the play.  We may read excerpts from this over the weekend.

From their response:

“…a number of prominent British Jews denounced it as anti-Semitic. Some even accused Churchill of blood libel, of perpetrating in Seven Jewish Children the centuries-old lie, used to incite homicidal anti-Jewish violence, that Jews ritually murder non-Jewish children. A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews told the Jerusalem Post that the ‘horrifically anti-Israel’ text went ‘beyond the boundaries of reasonable political discourse.’

We emphatically disagree. We think Churchill’s play should be seen and discussed as widely as possible.

Though you’d never guess from the descriptions offered by its detractors, the play is dense, beautiful, elusive and intentionally indeterminate. This is not to say that the play isn’t also direct and incendiary. It is. It’s disturbing, it’s provocative, but appropriately so, given the magnitude of the calamity it enfolds in its pages. Any play about the crisis in the Middle East that doesn’t arouse anger and distress has missed the point.


There’s a vast difference between making your audience uncomfortable and being anti-Semitic. To see anti-Semitism here is to construe erroneously the words spoken by the worst of Churchill’s characters as a statement from the playwright about all Jews as preternaturally filled with a viciousness unique among humankind. But to do this is, again, to distort what Churchill wrote.

A playwright’s presumptuous job is to imagine others, and the others Churchill has imagined in this play are Jews. If there’s anger in the writing, there’s also empathy, tenderness and intimacy. Nothing is more intimate than discussions between parents about what to tell their children; no act of speech is more carefully weighed or more fiercely protected. This is a family play, told from within the family. It concludes with love, and it concludes with fear.

Read the entire article here.

One Response from the NYTW reading of SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN

While Theater J presented the reading of SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN last night (we’ll host the event on Friday, Saturday and Sunday), The New York Theatre Workshop held their reading.  Their event tonight will also include a discussion moderated by Tony Kushner and Solomon (you can read their comment to the Theater J blog here).

The NYTW website posted a response from Kenneth Stern, Director on Antisemitism and Extremism, American Jewish Committee.  You can read his thoughts here.

SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN starts tonight: Thoughts from Churchill

The Theater J reading performance of SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN starts tonight at 8pm.  We will be picking up the play on Friday night with additional performances on Saturday (10:15pm) and Sunday (1:00pm).  All the info you need is here.

Ari Roth (who directed the piece with our Michael Dove) has been in correspondence with the playwright, Caryl Churchill.  The first part of her thoughts are posted over on Theater J’s blog.  More of Churchill’s response will be shared at the various readings of the play, as well as select readings of two pieces from authors moved to respond to Churchill’s play: Seven Palestinian Children by Deb Margolin and The Eighth Child by Robbie Gringras.

Caryl Churchill

Caryl Churchill

Also on their blog, you will find Josh Ford’s post:

Why Do a Reading of Churchill’s “Seven Jewish Children” at a Jewish Theater?

Mr. Ford is the Chief Programming Officer at the Washington DCJCC.

Forum Presents: Misfit Theatre Company

Forum is launching a series of late-night performances that will follow MARISOL, starting tonight.  All the details you need are here.  See the show for only $5 if you make it a part of a MARISOL/TRAGEDY: a fairytale double-bill!


Matt Ripa, who was part of the production team for Forum’s MARAT/SADE, has written and directed the Misfit production of TRAGEDY: a fairytale.  Here are his thoughts on the piece:

I am really excited about TRAGEDY: a fairytale with the Misfit Theatre Company. The company was started a few years ago by a group of artists who were interested in exploring movement based and group created theatre. While at Catholic University we worked on many productions including a successful adaptation of Julius Caesar.

The seed for Tragedy actually started 2 years ago. As artists we wanted to explore bedtime stories and how the messages of these stories influence children. As we researched we became increasingly interested in fairytales and the messages they send to young girls. Traditionally, these stories were used as teaching tools for moral instruction. The stories evolved from the oral tradition into storybooks and eventually as movies we all grew up with, it was clear that there was a lot more to these stories and their message than we had previously thought.

Caitlin, Alyssa and Ashley spoke about how the ideas of a “Prince Charming” and “Happily Ever After” influenced them and the way they saw the world. It was amazing to me how the more girls and women I talked to the more their experiences with fairytales were the same. From practicing fairytale weddings to imaginary prince charmings or fearing a “big bad wolf” would get them or that their sexuality was something that needed to be protected at all costs.

What we found was that the way in which these stories influence people could lead them down paths with tragic endings far from the fairytale endings that they had heard as a young child. As always, the Misfits explore and mine various texts to create performance material. In this piece we used much of the text of these classical stories and blended it with text from real-life ripped from the headlines stories.  As a group of artists we improvised and explored where these fairytales and tragedies intersected. Media, as the conduit for these messages, became a major aspect of the performance.

I am really excited about this multi-media and multi-layered performance. I think it will hit audiences on all different levels as we explore and mine these stories that are so familiar to everyone. I hope that we have maybe shed light on these stories in a way that is fresh and new.

We are so excited that Forum has given us this opportunity to share this performance at the H. St. Playhouse. I think that one (of many) of the amazing things about Forum is their view as theatre as a dialogue with the audience. I think the conversations we have after leaving the theatre are as important as the performance. I often see performance as a conversation with audience.  I think that Forum shares this vision and seeks to create theatre that doesn’t answer all the questions, but asks essential questions.

Churchill’s “Seven Jewish Children”

Forum and Theater J are collaborating on reading performances of Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children: a Play for Gaza.  We’ll have the show on March 27 and 29 and Theater J will host performances on March 25 and 26.  All performances will be free to the public and will include a discussion, following the performance.  Deb Margolin has written a response piece, Seven Palestinian Children, which will also be read.

Caryl Churchill

Caryl Churchill

The play has earned quite a reputation for it’s controversial views on the Israeli involvement in Gaza.   Both Theater J and ourselves are dedicated to producing work that gets these conversations going, so choosing to do this play is a perfect match for the two companies.  Follow the postings over at the Theater J blog.

Have you read the play?  What do you think of the controversy?  What is theatre’s role in producing immediate response to current events?

Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza

At Theater JWednesday 3/25 at 8:00 pm and on Thursday 3/26 at 10:00 pm at the Washington DCJCC.  The readings will be free to the public but reservations can be made at

At Forum: Friday, March 27 at 10:15pm following the performance of MARISOL and Sunday, March 29 at 1pm at the H Street Playhouse.  The readings will be free to the public and and there will be a collection for the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians following the performance and discussion.  No reservations will be taken for the Forum performances, so it will be first-come, first-serve.

Coverage in the NYTimes and the Washington Post.