Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rosh Hashana Raise Your Spirits Remembrances

During the Rosh Hashana prayer service there are so many things that reminded me of Raise Your Spirits and the productions in which we have performed over the past eleven years, and the characters I have played in those productions.
Funny thing to think about on Rosh Hashana, eh, but what can you do - Raise Your Spirits is Jewish history and remembrance. So is Rosh Hashana.
Toward the beginning of the Mussaf prayer, we ask G-d to "recall all the creatures fashioned since earliest times" and to have mercy on them all. We read, "You lovingly remembered Noah and You recalled him with words of salvation and mercy, when You brought the waters of the Flood to destroy all living flesh because of the evil of their deeds..."
"...G-d remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark, and G-d caused a spirit to pass over the earth and the water subsided."
Suddenly I was on stage in NOAH! Ride the Wave! watching as all the animals boarded the ark two by two, dancing their way to salvation. Then I was Noah himself in In Search of Courage, questioning why G-d had chosen my family and myself for life.
Toward the end of the prayers when the last shofar blasts were sounded, I read an explanation for the custom of blowing 100 shofar blasts of each day of Rosh Hashana.
The Artscroll Machzor said, "The source of this custom is the Scriptural narrative of the triumph of Deborah the Prophetess over Sisera, the Canaanite conquerer. In her song of gratitude for the victory, Deborah noted that Sisera's mother whimpered as she worried over the fate of her dead son. Her friend comforted her that he had surely won a great victory and was apportioning spoils and captive women about his officers and troops. (Judges 5:28-30) According to the Midrashic tradition she whimpered and groaned 101 times...By sounding the shofar 100 times, we seek to nullify the forces of cruelty exemplified by Sisera and his mother...Although she whimpered one time more than 100, we do not sound the shofar 101 times, because we, too, feel the pain of a mother who loses a child, even one as loathsome as Sisera." (Sefer HaToda'ah)
So, of course, I thought about Judge! The Song of Devora, and I was on stage as the despicable mother of Sisera whose only comfort at the loss of her son was the pain and cruelty to others.
Well, the entire year's Torah readings here and there contain memories of Raise Your Spirits productions, so I guess it's fitting that we start off right away with thoughts of our shows on Rosh Hashana.
May the new year bring good health, happiness, peace and success to all.
And a tremendous wish for success for those women on and off stage this year in Raise Your Spirits' ESTHER and the Secrets in the King's Court.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Father and Sons Reunion

Well, it wasn't really a reunion. It was a UNION.
Tonight for the first time, I met and rehearsed with my sons. I am Haman in the new Raise Your Spirits Theatre production of ESTHER and the Secrets in the King's Court. 
Haman had ten sons - all as slimy, evil and conniving as he. In fact, they ended just as deservedly - hanging from a tree. (To commemorate this event, my machatenesta - son's mother-in-law - makes gingerbread cookies and hangs them from a branch.)
The girls/boys/girls/whatever danced for me in a number we do together. It's called He's the Man!! It's a Hip Hop number, because Haman is THE Man!! And these creepy kids idolize their Dastardly Dad.
Well, their dance was a wow, but they were so beautiful, so adorable, so smiley and delicious. So, I told them to toughen up. They're wicked! They're nasty! They're slimy!
Now we're trying to think of a proper name for them. "Haman's Sons" seems a little plain for these young dynamos. What about Haman's Nasty Boys? Or Haman's Conniving Kids?
We haven't come up with something that rocks yet, but I'll tell you. This number ROCKS like crazy. My sons are BAD (that means, they're good)! And I, Haman, am SUPER BAD, the Baddest Daddest Guy Around.
Well, you'll just have to see it. If you think of a good name for my Bad Boys, let me know.
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BTW, Boys...don't let me catch you smiling....or else. (Your loving Dad - grrrrrrrrrrrr)