Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Grand Rounds @ Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage

Margi Herwald Zitelli & Luke Brett
Strange, I am opening a show tonight -- performing in the Cleveland Public Theatre production of The Santaland Diaries in Playhouse Square -- which means I will not be present for the premiere of my new ten-minute play, No Cure For Cancer.

Last summer, Jeffery Allen, Director of Education at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, and Faye Sholiton, director of Interplay Jewish Theatre, contacted me about participating in an evening of brief plays (called collectively Grand Rounds) to be performed as part of a new exhibit at the Maltz, Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews In Medicine.

The four playwrights include Faye and myself, and Christine Howey and Anne McEvoy. We met with Jeff a few months ago to discuss the project. We would each write a short script for two actors, to be performed in the exhibit itself. We drew for each of the four spaces -- the medical library, a consultation room, the rear of an ambulance, and a pharmacy.

I drew the medical library. We also drew for character types, which we could use or not. I got the coveted “racist” card. A racist and a “suit.” A racist and a suit walk into a medical library …

Anyway, I did research on medical hoaxes (which are always racist in nature) and was led down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and madness and found myself not one step closer to a character nor an idea. That’s when my wife suggested I investigate the works of Maimonides, the 12th century philosopher, Torah scholar and physician.

Then I fell into a warren of horrible websites that malinterpret the teachings of Maimonides.

Long story short, I created a brief sketch in which two people meet, a concerned parent with an ill child (originally my “suit,” and really she still could be) and a callow, young man on a quest for knowledge.

The actors in No Cure For Cancer are Margi Herwald Zitelli and Luke Brett. Luke’s character (neither have names) is really the focus of the piece, one of your modern young white nationalists who fancy themselves intellectuals. The kind of guy who defines himself by what he’s not; he’s not a Nazi, he’s not some neckbeard, dwelling in his mother’s basement. He can talk to a woman, and often has sex with them.

Last Saturday we had the chance to rehearse in the space, and to see each other’s plays. They are all delightful, a powerful artistic endeavor and I wish I could be there to share in it. Each play will be performed simultaneously for a subset of the attendees, who will then circulate to see the other works, each play to be performed four times.

Word is the event is sold out, but you can call the museum (216-593-0575) for more information.

Grand Rounds at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage will be performed this evening, Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at 7:00 PM

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