animation, film, Golda, humor rhymes with tumor, israel, Judaism, travel

South Texas and South Israel Park

Sari and I drove out to Poteet today, south of San Antonio, so we could see the area she covers for the paper. It’s very spread out, sunny, open and hot. We wore tank tops and shorts. The land is a beautiful place, with big overhanging trees and wide streets. I can see why people love Texas so much. It has a grandeur to it, even in a small town, and the sky really does seem large. It’s open.

But there’s a lot of poverty. The paint on the buildings is old, and the homes look patched together. We went by a mobile home with “Keep Away” spray-painted in red on one of the windows. We also went by rows of glistening, brand-new tractors, next to houses with crumbling wood. The juxtaposition between Poteet and the prosperity in San Antonio – and even more so in Austin – is extreme.

It was a drive that makes you think, a drive of extreme class contrasts, extreme poverty. Naturally, I got into talking about Golda and TJT and Jewish politics. I gave Sari my 10-minute history of Zionism and the state of Israel. We talked about politics in Palestine on the drive both there and back. We talked about institutionalized racism versus gun-in-your-face, bomb-on-the-bus racism. Texas. Mexico. Israel. The US. Palestine. Europe.

She’s helped me to remember some of the animation I used to do (Sari did the voice for this little film called “Misfortunes Of An Arrogant Child” that was at the Stanford film festival, when I was a junior) and we talked about the possibilities of making short films, short animated Internet segments a la Muffinfilms, which would have Jewish content – which would create something of an Internet comedy/theatrical voice for intelligent criticism of the Israel/Palestine conflict. (Now that’s a tall order.) Something like the South Park of the Jews. Something like a more meaningful Quarterlife. American Jews, or short animated kids, trying to make sense of it all.

It wouldn’t even have to be criticism. It could just be comedy-reportage. I’m really into this idea, but it feels like way too much responsibility – making sharp comedy about this issue is so hard, and so charged, and I’d probably end up with a real bomb on my hands, to use an inappropriate metaphor. Anyway, I don’t need another project.

Maybe I can start by making short animated films about something else with Jewish subject matter. Like I really need another project, right? Especially one that’s going to make everybody angry? But this is what I would want to watch. I guess that means it’s what I have to make.

Then we went to the zoo, came back and made chili. We’re going to see her roommate Monica play at an open mic tonight.

We also discussed, yesterday, what in modern entertainment today is the real child of Beckett.


Golda: The Movie

There’s a movie of GOLDA’S BALCONY, with Valerie Harper, directed by Jeremy Kagan, who’s done a lot of TV, and it opened two days ago in New York. If anyone has seen it, please let me know if it’s good.

Golda, israel

Where are the Phantoms?

The relationship between Israel’s military strength and United States support, technological and financial, has never been so clear to me as it is post-GOLDA. I’ve been reading Oriana Fallaci’s book INTERVIEW WITH HISTORY, where she interviews Meir, Arafat, and Kissinger, among others, and all of them allude to the complexities of the US-Israel connection. As did Ahmadinejad, petulantly, in his Columbia talk. I even overhear people arguing about it at the Civic Center Bart station:

“There are only two countries in the world that have F-14s. You know what they are?”
“The US and Israel.”


Golda’s Continuing Saga

We had our understudy runthrough yesterday, and then there was another talkback for GOLDA last night, which Aaron, Camille, and Kent Nicholson (new works at Twx) ran. The questions were very determined, and people wanted to keep talking long past the time when we all needed to leave. It’s a topic that you can’t put back in the box.

What was most interesting to me was the woman who asked Aaron, “Why would the Israelis let a Russian-born woman (Golda) be their Prime Minister?” She had the impression that Israel was a much older country than it was, and wasn’t aware that all Israelis are (or were) immigrants.

Our reviews, which came out this week, from the Chronicle and the Merc, were both mixed. I think it’s hard to make a living portrayal of this topic that suits everyone’s tastes. One critic wanted larger characters. One wanted more passion, one less. And so on. I think we’ve created a unique and subtle GOLDA, but who won’t be everyone’s easiest cup of tea to swallow – just like the real woman.


Building 260

GOLDA opened on Saturday, and I spent Sunday and Monday staying at 2319, dealing with video returns and bike rack repair. I also walked around Stanford with Murray, giving him the dog’s eye view of the humanities departments.

Today, we continue understudy rehearsals, and I get to be at a talkback for high-school students.


Matzah Balls For Everybody!

Yesterday, in the rehearsal before first preview, we did two hours of work notes and what everyone on this production refers to as an “Italian run”, or a speedthrough. I’ve never heard that term before. Apparently it traditionally is without blocking, but we did ours on stage. Camille went through the show in an hour and six minutes! The results were fantastic – our preview yesterday night ran at only 1:37.

The audience said “Shalom” back to Camille when we raised house to half at the end.

Aaron and I had a long talk about future workshopping – he’s asked me to try to take a stab at some more narrative text on the Passover project.


Leben zolst du, Goldele

Today we ran, out of context, a number of phone-call transitions, then ran the entire show – then had an open dress with a few people in it. (Oh, and I showed up half an hour late because I didn’t read the rehearsal report. Keeping them guessing. ) It was a sweet, small audience, attentive and friendly, and they appreciated Camille.

Tomorrow we’re doing notes and a speedthrough before the first real preview. We’re more than ready for an audience. Golda is such a storyteller, as our process keeps uncovering, and she needs someone to tell the story to.

At Molly Magee’s after the show. It turns out our projection designer went to Stanford, too, and met Condoleeza Rice during a Gaieties one year.

Golda, the audience, theater

You’ll Have It In The Morning

Tonight at Molly Magee’s, after two run-throughs in our final day of tech, (and my laptop fainting like a woman of fiction in the middle of the second one) we fell into another conversation about bad theater and the way it happens so often – through money, through paint-by-numbers directing or writing, through “prescription audiences,” through mediocrity.

We criticized theater with the attention to detail of intimate family. We know her flaws better than anyone else does. (And, I suppose, she knows ours.)

I suddenly overheard myself saying that every new audience is an new opportunity to do something better. I don’t always believe that, but I try to work as if I did.

Golda, style

And the war

Bringing in a projection of an image of fences before you say the words “fenced in” makes the words feel foreshadowed.

Bringing it in after makes the words feel like they’re coming from a teacher in art class with slides.

directing, Golda, style


I was thinking about what the inherently Jewish styles are, especially of language and performance. And this popped into my head, round about the Dimona section.


Commentary is a scholarly art, a religious one, a Jewish one – and I need to do a play with more commentary in it. Like the “Footnote” character I interpolated into LYSISTRATA. It just seemed natural to do. But only natural to the brain of someone brought up on the arguing rabbis in the Seder. It’d be great to have commentary characters in the Passover project.

I did so many things right in LYSISTRATA, and I still don’t know how I did most of them. I need to do that show again. It’ll have been ten years in two.