1. Who is Judith?
Judith is the heroine of The Book of Judith, written at the time of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (530BCE - 70BC). In the Apocryphal text, she is described as a widow who is well-respected by her Jewish tribe. When the mercilessly destructive army of Holofernes, comes to destroy her people, the Jewish elders advise all to pray for 5 days before they surrender. Judith does not wish to wait. She volunteers herself to approach the general without any defense but her faith that God will protect her. She successfully charms the general, who drunkenly falls asleep in her company. She cuts off the head of the general and carries it back to her village. When the army wakes to find the Jewish soldiers at their camp, they discover the corpse and flee. Judith becomes renowned for her heroism.
2. Why are we adapting the story of Judith?
On November 8th 2016, America laid siege to itself by electing a White Supremacist into the White House. In our country’s long history of oppression, this event unmasked the alarming ugliness of the problem today. Each day of “45”’s presidency reminds us that we can not stay passive and silent. These are times for loud unified resistance. Our resistance is in creation and celebration, embodiment and vulnerability, empathy and collaboration. Our resistance is feminine.
Judith, as our heroine, is the symbol of a feminine-powered revolution. She represents the intersection of spirituality, bravery, agency and strength that inspires us as womxn to take action in the resistance to oppression and violence.
As a collective of artists and Jewish feminists, Well of Wills sees it as part of our mission to embolden the voices of womxn as leaders of the movement towards equity for the marginalized. We view activism and creativity as spiritual work. Through the deconstruction and reconstruction of a story of the Jewish people, we will summon the powers of collaboration, creative expression and community to create bold works of art that serve as prayer, ritual and catharsis.
This Master Class series begins a research process toward developing a full length play. The content generated in this Summer Series will serve as source material to a final piece that will be performed around Hannukah in December 2018.
Content generated during these 4 sessions may or may not be used in the final work. All participants involved in the Master Classes will be acknowledged in the program as contributors to the creation to the piece and no materials will be used without the author’s consent.
3. Who is this for?
Theater is a powerful tool to process lived experience for people of all backgrounds. Theater not only provides profound catharsis for its audiences, but performers and makers alike. We want our communities to have access to that process in order to empower individuals to create, express and collaborate more in everyday life.
4. What do you mean when you say, “all who identify personally with the struggle for gender equity”. Who is that specifically including?
This work will explore themes of patriarchal oppression and violence from the point of view of those who have been victim to those forces, and centering and empowering these voices. We encourage the participation of womxn, female-identifying, queer, trans, and gender non-conforming folks because these communities are most affected. This project centers around the female or femme experience specifically because we seek to use the story of Judith to inspire allyship and resistance through creative collaboration amongst those who share this lived experience.
5. What is the time commitment?
A single Master Class is a commitment to the Evening Salon, Thursday, 7:30-9:30pm & to the Sunday Afternoon Theater Lab, 3:00-7:00 PM. There will be optional reading materials and writing prompts shared with participants in advance of each Master Class. We are asking folks to commit to be present for a minimum of 3 Master Classes, however, if this does not align with your schedule, please connect with us and we are happy to work with what works for you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. Where do I buy tickets?
7. Where are the workshops being held?
Workshops, rehearsals and the final performance will be located in Brooklyn, NY. Locations will be made available upon registration.
Research Salons - Thursdays, 8-10pm - Bushwick, Morgan L
Master Classes - Sundays, 3pm-7pm - TBD
8. So there are “salons” AND “master classes” ...Explain?
To experience the full process of turning discussion into live theater, we have created a 2-part series that allows for a more in-depth exploration.
Thursday evenings will feature group discussion and a close reading and exploration of source materials curated/facilitated by Mati Engel. Healthy snacks will be provided!
Sunday master classes will draw from these sources to create theatrical material. Come in clothing that enables movement. Expect to perform, create, collaborate, write, and use your voice and your body.
We'll also be publishing reflections from each masterclass on our site for folks to follow along/ comment / share feedback along this creative, community journey.
9. Can I try out one Workshop before registering for the whole thing?
If you’d like to dip your toes in first, we encourage you to attend our first session on Sunday, June 24th, which will combine the Salon and Class (typically Thursday & Sunday) into one afternoon. You can come to as many sessions as you wish, but we encourage folks to attend a minimum of two to go deeper into the work and cultivate an ensemble.
10. How does theater get made collaboratively?
By contrast to traditional theatre which starts with a script, devised theatre utilizes an ensemble who is actively collaborating on their feet in the rehearsal room, through discussion and play. Creative ideas are shared democratically and the piece becomes a reflection of the group.
Nessa’s process uses texts, popular culture, autobiographical storytelling and gestural movement as source material. She leads an ensemble in a reflective process of examining and discussing these sources, then translated important themes into characters, plot points and physical and verbal language. These pieces are organically woven into a narrative.
In this series, we will generate mini-works in each Master Class that will be shared at the end of each session.
11. Will there be a final performance?
This is a process-oriented series where participants can focus on their individual enrichment and the building of a creative collective – without the pressures of creating a final product. We will consider an open showing for the process if it feels appropriate.
These workshops are being used as research labs for a full length theatrical production, presented in December 2018. We wish to include workshop participants in the making of that final piece, however the capacity of involvement will be determined once the workshop series is complete. All who are enthusiastic about being involved in the final production will be welcome to participate in a way that supports the work contingent on their availability for the 3-week rehearsal process to proceed it.
12. Who is the team behind this?
Nessa Norich is the director of the performance piece in development as well as co-facilitator with Mati Engel, who will be Dramaturg and Educational Director. This project is Produced by Hannah Roodman with Creative Production support from Ariel Warmflash and graphics from Meirav Ong. We have received generous support from the UJA Brooklynites Grant.