Saturday, March 7, 2015


It's time to mix it up at Sprockets and Greasepaint. Time to chat with some writers and directors about what they are writing, what they are staging, why they've chosen what they've chosen, and how they are going to go about doing it.

Last week, I was offered an opportunity to speak with David Eisner, co-artistic director of the Harold Green Jewish Theatre in Toronto about the company's participation in this year's SPOTLIGHT ON ISRAELI CULTURE, currently taking place in Toronto, and about some other upcoming work at the theatre.

This Sunday, March 8, the company presents a reading of of APPLES FROM THE DESERT , by Savyon Liebrecht.  APPLES... won the 2006 Israel Best Play Award. Liebrecht was born in Munich to Holocaust survivor parents who immigrated to Israel.  The play is an adaptation of her own short story.

Rivka is the 18 year old daughter of a controlling father and a subservient mother.  Her father wants to marry Rivka off to an older man, a widower with children.  Rivka's single aunt thinks this is a bad idea, and so does Rivka, who has her own ideas about how, and with whom, she wants to spend her future.  She's met secular Doobie who want to live on a kibbutz.

I spoke with Eisner about his choice of play for the festival, earlier this week.

Eisner: "It's the second year we have participated in the festival. Avery (Saltzman, the company's co-artistic director) and I chose this script because, while it is set in Israel, in a religious Sephardic home, the play speaks to universal themes of love and family.  Liebrecht casts a critical gaze on  he meaning of family, and asks the question, "what do children learn from their parents?"

S&G: "Not always what they intend. She certainly learned what kind of marriage she didn't want."

Eisner, " Yes.  I liked the range of family dynamics the play presented: between the  husband and wife, between sisters, between Rivka and her parents, separately and together."

S&G: "And it's a love story; and a very sweet one, with a young woman who is determined to choose her mate on her own terms."

Eisner: "Yes, an Israeli love story, with universal themes of love and reconciliation, which was perfect for the festival."

S&G: "You've got a great cast for this reading: Sarah Dodds, Avery Saltzman, Shelia McCarthy..."

Eisner: "Shelia and Avery are also in our upcoming production, THEREFORE CHOOSE LIFE with Jake Epstein from DeGrassi.  We're really excited, because it will be our first production in the newly renovated 300 seat Greenwin Theatre at the Toronto Centre for the Arts."

S&G: " So this is not only a reading of a well-regarded script, it's a sample of what the company has in store for the rest of the season?"

Eisner: "Exactly.  We are in our eighth season. People seem to enjoy what we're doing.  We have 2100 subscribers - but we'd always love more!"

S&G:  "So APPLES... is a chance for prospective subscribers to get a free sample of what HAROLD GREEN does?"

Eisner: "Exactly! We'll be announcing the playbill for our 9th season at the end of March. Say tuned!"

Free theatre on a Sunday afternoon:  what more could you ask for?

APPLES FROM THE DESERT will receive a free public reading at the GALLERY LOUNGE of the  TORONTO CENTRE for the ARTS, 5040 Yonge Street, as part of  SPOTLIGHT ON ISRAELI CULTURE on Sunday, March 8th at 2:00 pm.  Seating is limited and reservations are required. Call (416) 932 9995 to reserve a seat.

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