The Endeavors of Youth in Theater

By: Chaviva Friedman  |  May 12, 2015

If you ask most people about me, one of the first things you can expect them to say is, “She loves theatre.” It’s true – I’ve loved it since I was a child. Since starting college I have participated in the Stern College Dramatics Society’s productions of The Sound of Music and the recent Arsenic and Old Lace. I even plan on going into Performing Arts Management. I’ve always believed that life imitates art and I recently had the opportunity to play theatre critic while attending a play reading.

Earlier in the month, I received a Facebook invitation to the first reading of a play written by a friend from my recent Birthright trip. I knew that he was in the middle of writing one, but I was surprised to see that he had finished it and was hosting a reading. My friends who had read it told me they loved it, but I had no idea what to expect.I was conflicted about going – the time conflicted with the same time as my work shift. I wasn’t sure whether to be a good friend and go to the reading, or keep my shift and go to work. It didn’t help that I was busy with play rehearsals as well, and as Assistant Stage Manager I need to be at every rehearsal. I decided to think about it, put a “maybe” in the Facebook event, and went about my business.

The Sunday before the reading, I was still debating about what I was going to do. After much thought, and a back and forth conversation on Facebook with my friend who was hosting the reading, I had my shift switched. I’d decided that I was going to make the effort and go listen to my friend’s the reading.

I showing up the night of the reading with only a few minutes to spare (note to self: don’t go anywhere with two Chabadniks when you want to be on time to something). “We’re starting in eight minutes!” called the host while standing on a chair. I sat myself on the floor, made some room for the rest of my friends Birthright to sit, and proceeded to watch the reading unfold.

From the get-go, my initial reaction was of surprise. The concept was great – a bunch of people working together to attempt to put on a play. There were moments of hilarity – watching the actors yell at each other in German had me in stitches. There were moments of protest – some of the language made the audience (including myself) very uncomfortable, and there were some choice words being said. There were moments of shock – a friend and I started playing the Wolf of Wall Street game to see how many times the characters cursed, and we lost count after ten minutes. There were moments of wonder – I wondered from time to time what I had gotten myself into when I said that I was going to go to the reading. There were moments of brilliance – some of the lines written had me wanting to write them down in the quote book that I’ve kept since high school. There were moments of familiarity – I felt that some of the plot resembled the show It’s Only a Play, currently on Broadway. When the reading commenced, there were cheers and hollers of enjoyment, and I was left with no words and confusion.

After giving myself some time to digest the experience, I realized I was genuinely impressed that my friend had the guts to write a play. I personally wouldn’t have been able to do it, let alone have the patience to sit down at my computer and write one. Although I didn’t agree with some of the calls that my friend made, I do believe in artistic integrity, and if this is how he wants the play to be, then c’est la vie. After thinking about it some more, the reading left me with more fervor to make Arsenic and Old Lace the best that it could be. I’m grateful for the experience to attend the reading – I would’ve missed out on something special, innovative, and indicative of the hard work that is essential in creating a work of art.