Sunday, August 29, 2010


So much of what we do in the arts has to do with just surviving. We look for work, we keep peddling our goods, we join people for projects not knowing if they will pay off, and we do what we can to support ourselves while we keep going and going and WAITING.

What if we were supported without all the work that goes into getting the support...only to not get it? What if there was an appreciation for the arts in this country so that there was a process that made sense. And artists and those promoting the arts could just enter into that process and get funding to pursue their dreams, at least to the extent that gives it a real chance?

But somehow the arts are supposed to be underfunded. New forms of culture aren't valued by those with money, unless these forms bring in money of their own. So the way to reach success is money and the indicator that brings money is money. What is wrong with this picture?

And we wait and wait and wait...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Getting there

So this is the end of the week. I have heard from a lot of people who are looking forward to the Jewish theatre conference in Chicago and our team is getting ready

I just want to take a step back to think about the artistic side of it all. Jewish arts is really no different than any other arts in its execution.

All arts longs to reach the transcendent and all arts seeks to build community and a sense of exploration through the emotions, intellect, body, and spirit. Jewish arts, African-American, Irish, Latino, Gay, and more. But the problem is that we don't understand that in our difference we are all one. We think we act like we are one either by pretending that we accept each other when we really continue to conflate issues of difference and harbor hatred -- witness the horrible brouhaha over the Islamic Center in lower Manhattan. Or we try to merge all cultures into the "Why can't we just get along?" Rodney King mantra.

But the really cool thing, which is also a paradox, is that in our difference we are truly one. We were meant to be different and to come from different cultures and identities and that when we gather together and explore our differences and similarities together by looking at each other through the other's lens -- then we are one. The ultimate paradox best explored through art -- Being Many Through Being One; Being One Through Being Many.

Shabbat Shalom, Salaam Aleichem, Peace Be Unto You

Monday, August 09, 2010

How do we find the narrative when we don't even know it?

I just responded to a question by Ariel Beery from PresenTense about the Jewish narrative and the need to find one. He references an article by Seth Cohen in relation to philanthropy

What does this mean? Cohen still is looking at the Jewish narrative as one that is needed to obtain wealth. He wants to inspire donors for causes. He is thinking about monetization as the goal of the narrative. This is wrongheaded thinking and leads to the already rigid thinking of our so-called Jewish leaders. That is why diaspora Jews are so turned off to the Judaism presented to them in their communities and that is why their view of Israel is only as a tribal nation that only cares about itself.

The Jewish narrative is already super compelling. The need is to extend it to include the world in positive interaction. We need to do two things that are counter-intuitive. We need to both include others in our story of liberation from Egypt/the Mitzrayim of slavery to authority/extremism and we need to maintain a security, pride, and celebration in living Judaism and Jewish culture through our historical experience. We need to both reach out and in and reject tribalism which is another way of creating a self-imposed ghetto. We have lived as outsiders to the world and that knowledge is very powerful. It is a paradox that we need to maintain and it is there that we find our creative dimension.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


I have been changing over the last three years and as I have journeyed so has my work and my art. I am now working not only for Jewish theatre and arts but also for theatre from other identities and cultures. I am working on a show now from an LGBT point of view and I am working with artists and their narratives to construct a theatre that we call identity and heritage theatre.

What is the theory behind all of this? I recently read some works that are about how to best understand Kabbalah from historical contexts. The book by Moshe Idel, "Ascensions on High in Jewish Mysticism: Pillars, Lines and Ladders" posits that by adopting the point of view of the other in order to understand oneself is a way to not only understand the way others view you, but to find new ways to view oneself. It is like looking in a mirror with a mirror behind one. The reflection continues and multiple images appear. So it is in a perspectivist approach. there is more to this but I realize that I have already applied that to my art and my work.

So I call it Perspectivist Arts and Culture. There is more to say about my theories, about the wonderful theatre group that has been accepting my theories and practice and putting them into action in a very intense laboratory setting, but I will leave it there for now and try to continue this even more as the days go by.