Image courtesy of Iris Bahr's website
Ten people—five Jews, four Christians, and one Palestinian Muslim—are given complex yet brief life in a play, which chronicles the final minutes before the fictitious bombing of a Tel Aviv café.
I, along with a smattering of young professionals from Adas Israel, attended this one-woman show hosted by Theater J and Studio Theatre Thursday evening. And like most everyone in the packed audience, I believe, I was left with ranging, intense emotions.
Iris Bahr, an Israeli American of about my age, wrote this one-woman play during the time of the Israel/Hezbollah war in 2006. And although “the story” is only peripherally about Israeli military action, it certainly struck a deeper chord due to the current situation in Gaza.
Bahr, who played each of the ten characters, would go from table to table, which were laden with props. Each monologue, delivered in stunningly believable accents ranging from American to Israeli to British and Russian, would draw us in to the fascinating world of a fully developed person, before the sound of a bomb would stop him or her in mid-step, the lights dimming as s/he slumped to the ground, and leave Bahr free to assume the next one. As one patron noted, “it was like losing each of the characters individually.”
Their backgrounds ranged from a fierce, American-born West Bank settler, to an elitist ex-patriot visiting from New York, to a gay German with Nazi history in his family, to a moderate Palestinian mother who endured all the checkpoints just to relax with a cup of coffee.
Though these characters are incredibly diverse, my one criticism would be the lack of non-Ashkenazi Jews. Every single Jewish person had ties to the Holocaust, and although that is a large part of our collective narrative, there are still unexplored stories out there from a Sephardic or Mizrahi standpoint.
The hour-long play was followed by an hour-long discussion sponsored by the Theater J Peace Café. Aharon Barnea, senior correspondent to the U.S. for Channel 2 television in Israel, and Ronit Avni, founder and executive director of Just Vision, shared their thoughts, and Iris Bahr was able to respond. The floor was then turned to audience members for a brief Q&A, and we learned that there were some college students among us from California and Michigan who had never seen Israel portrayed on stage before. A couple of them shared ponderings on the intensity of the situation.
There is so much more I could write about “Dai,” but a big part of me would rather not spoil it, and instead urge everyone in the D.C. area to take the time to see this wonderful play. It’s only in town til the 18th, so get a move on! 😛 Check out Theater J’s blog for more information.