With shows like Once On This Island and Torch Song recently giving their final performances on Broadway, it’s only natural to wonder what’s coming up next. To brainstorm a little, I came up with a list of Jewish stories, figures, and characters that would fit perfectly on a stage.
Disclaimer: my picks are unabashedly influenced by a mix of the new RBG movie and the new Mary Queen of Scots movie--I know, it seems weird, but I promise it will work. Grab a drink and let’s talk theater. L’chaim!
The Myth of Lilith
A play about a feminist demon. Who could ask for more? Lilith is sometimes considered to be the first woman ever created, even before Eve. Her name, meaning ‘night’, represents her manifestation of the dark side of the human psyche: sexuality, fear, and lack of control. Lilith appears many different times, in many different stories. However, each one has a tone of rebellion, feminism, and power woven into them. In more recent years, Lilith’s myths have been reinterpreted in feminist midrashim--making for some pretty entertaining stories.
Honestly, her song “When You Believe” in The Prince of Egypt earned Miriam her own production years ago. This tambourine-shaking pioneer would be spell bounding in a script. She is one of the most action-driven women in the entire Torah--looking over her brother (Moses), leading women out of Egypt, and speaking her mind. Miriam’s character and life story would create a beautiful piece of theater.
The Matriarchs or imahot (אמאהות)
We know enough about the founding fathers; it’s time we get to see the core four take over Broadway. Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, the imahot, are some of the most important female figures mentioned in the Torah. Each one carries their own long, complex tail of stories that could be spun into a dozen different plots to be put on stage. There are themes of female alliance, taking down the patriarchy, and male privilege in each of these women's stories--there’s no way they weren’t eventually supposed to be turned into theater.
The Red Tent
The best selling book, originally published in 1997, could be brilliantly refreshed and redesigned for the stage. Plus, it passes the Bechdel test… so what’s not to love? The Red Tent emphasizing the very importance of storytelling, especially stories of women. Through the eyes of young Dinah, we learn the stories of her childhood, her mother’s, and those of the matriarchs in the Torah. This beautiful story was also adapted for film back in 2014, so it’s next stop could easily be Broadway.
Hagar and Sarah
Think Mary Queen of Scots with Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, but Jewish. The relationship between Hagar and Sarah is compelling, complicated, and hard to fathom. However, it gives us a look into early female friendships and relationships, how women were groomed to turn against one another, and how the underlying heart beat of sisterhood can sometimes override that. Hagar and Sarah have many different stories together in the Torah, providing an ample amount of material for any ambitious playwright.
Women of the Wall
The ultimate mechitzah story. Women of the Wall is a diverse, multi-denominational feminist group that fights for equal rights and space for women to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In the context of theater, the story of these women could go in any direction--documentary, abstract, or realism. We rarely hear the voices of modern Jewish women, especially those that live in Israel. Creating a piece of art for the revolutionary work of the Women of the Wall could open the eyes of Jewish, and non-Jewish, people globally.