1-In your own words, describe the production. Including key themes and conflicts…why is this the right time for this production?
It's about someone wishing away their inherited baggage, and complications that causes. I confront my family's racism when my brother and I both commit to interracial relationships (his has the benefit of being straight, but the drawback of being with an Arab). Our parents insist the Holocaust means Jews can't be safe with anyone but other Jews. Wanting a more inclusive identity, I wonder how different my life would be if the Holocaust had never happened; before I know it, I'm interviewing Holocaust deniers around the world. Needless to say, what I hear—and share—is shocking. Laughable, and yet, considering at least eight white nationalists are running for U.S. Congress in 2018, also terrifying.
2-Who are your collaborators and what do you like about working with them?
I am a geeky, loner introvert. Usually during a show I've written, I'm pacing in the back of the theater, nursing crushes on the actors. Performing, on purpose, in front of a hundred people a night, projecting confidence? I'd work with no one else but the director Jeremy Gold Kronenberg, who has known me since we were preteens and his middle name was not "Gold" and he was knitting homemade vests on the bus to school. I feel safer being naked before him than I do before most of my doctors. Especially my urologist. Jeremy's never stuck anything up my urethra.
3-Who is the typical audience for the production? What do you want audiences to get out of the show (ie: feel when they leave the theater)?
When I first started performing this show, I thought I would do it in a sort of Sacha Baron Cohen persona and present myself as a real Holocaust denier. Over the years, I've realized theater attracts more earnest, liberal Jews than it does Ali G fans, so now my audience is earnest, liberal Jews. All of them. All the synagogue-going, Haaretz-reading, Trump-hating Jews from here to Scarsdale. But also all the gays. And all the Millennials. Everyone worried about fake news and Bannon and Kushner and Russia, and everyone who listens to On the Media and On Being and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (for the yuks). Anyone who sees a terrible normalization of hate happening, and wants to engage in a 75-minute dialogue about what we need to know to fight back. At the end of each show, I want 100 people to have laughed 150 times—but to still be scared shitless. Really scared shitless. Like so scared, I thought about calling the play "Oy, Get Out Already!" But then I learned Orin Wolf has already optioned that title for a show staring Nick Kroll coming to Broadway in 2019.
4-Who is someone (or something) who has inspired you?
Deborah Lipstadt, while researching Hoaoxocaust. Mel Brooks, while writing it. RuPaul Charles, every Thursday.
5-Why theatre, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Seventh grade. I like being good at things, and it already wouldn't be sports. When my voice changed, it also wouldn't be musicals.
QUESTING BEAST PRODUCTIONS
in partnership with THE THEATER AT THE 14TH STREET Y
Written and performed by BARRY LEVEY
Directed by JEREMY GOLD KRONENBERG
SEPTEMBER 5 – 30, 2018 AT THE THEATER AT THE 14TH STREET Y
TICKETS START AT $25 | WWW.14STREETY.ORG
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