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BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronavirus

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BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronavirus

The Jewish Women's Theatre of Los Angeles defines itself as "as writer's theater" in that their signature Salon series performances are a unifying experience, providing great entertainment and unexpected opportunities for self-reflection and connection that strengthens our humanity. Now in their 13th season, JWT seeks, develops and adapts stories celebrating a diverse Jewish population that can share the stage, regardless of gender, generation, degree of Jewish observance, ethnicity, cultural background, or sexual orientation. And so, they draw audiences of all ages, both women and men, from all walks of life.

JWT's unique shows engage all kinds of writers, actors and audiences to deeply reflect on and celebrate Jewish life. For many, it provides a new and culturally relevant way to reshape perceptions of Jews for themselves and others. For others, it connects them to their Jewish roots within a non-religious community.

BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of CoronavirusSuch was the case for me with their recent Salon series offering "Inside our Time: Stories from the Sheltering" which was adapted from personal story submissions about living during the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic which is limiting access of people to each other. And of course, those of us who have grown up in a Jewish family know there is nothing more important than being able to gather together, especially over food, to celebrate life's achievements - or just because it's a nice day for a picnic together in the park.

Performed virtually by invitation to join the National Women's Theatre Festival in North Carolina, "Inside our Time" BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronaviruspresents eight selected stories (from a series of 31) performed by four talented and dedicated actors whose only prop is a notebook containing the story being read. Like all Salon series shows, usually performed in homes around the Westside, the story is the focus, told without scenery, props or costumes. And as presented online, I guarantee you won't miss those embellishments since the emotional content of each story is presented with such authenticity that you will find yourself identifying with each character as their stories connect all of us, all the time, thanks to the skill of the incredibly talented cast.BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronavirus

The eight stories presented were directed by Susan Morgenstern and produced by Ronda Spinak, Susan Morgenstein and Andrew Fromer, who entertains playing guitar at the opening and finale of the "Inside our Time" performance. The joy of all involved for sharing the "live" theatre experience literally bursts from the screen!

Here is a brief description of each story presented:

"Striking it Rich" performed by Shelly Goldstein is told from the perspective of a woman who has been self-isolating for 30 days BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronaviruswho decides it's time to go through her kitchen cabinets, spice drawer, clothing closet (where she has to deal with items she hopes to wear someday as well as those which bring back cherished memories, which "take up space"), the hall closet, to a place where she discovers a filled-to-the-brim Ziploc bag of tiny hand sanitizers. "I'm rich!" she exclaims before realizing the best thing she could have done was to send her new-found treasure out to those in need rather than seek her fortune on eBay. This story made me think about all the items I have recently found while organizing my own home while stuck at home for the past 4 months.

"In the Kitchen" performed by Lisa Cirincione BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronaviruscenters on a woman preparing all of her favorite Jewish recipes while memories of her Grandmother, Mother and Aunts instructing her on the "correct" way to make each item are shared with a smile and emotional sighs. Just hearing her say, "Chicken soup can't risk the Coronavirus for the sake of a parsnip," as a way to mollify her recognition of not being able to strictly follow her family recipe, brought back personal memories for me of watching my Bubbie making her famous lima bean and barley soup while knowing I would never be able to duplicate the recipe, and my Grandmother's fluffy Bubalah pancake-crepe she lovingly prepared each Passover as we drooled over the sensory aroma that filled her home.

"These Floors are Great for Tap Dancing" performed by A.J. Meijer BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronavirusshared the story about the man's younger sister Kayla, an athletic child whose brilliance at gymnastics as well as in the classroom, propelled her to become an ER Doctor. "Her dedication and bravery amaze me as I sterilize my bags of spinach from Trader Joe's," he shares. "She is my hero - the greatest one I have ever known." Thankfully no mention is made of her not surviving the pandemic, although the situation certainly filled the atmosphere of the tale.

"The Upside of the Coronavirus" performed by Kate Zentall BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronavirusstarts with a parent describing how her children are now calling her daily to check on her status, whereas before the pandemic the loving concern they are now sharing used to only be written into greeting cards. "I hope this kind of care continues when things go back to normal," ends the short scene. Something tells me it will since so many now realize how important it is to always show our parents how much we love them.

"The First Time" BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronavirusperformed by Shelly Goldstein is told by a tearful mother bemoaning her inability to there for her children during the pandemic. The universal heartbreak of this story must be occurring in every city around the world, every single minute of the day right now.

"Staying" performed by A.J. Meijer shares a father's compassion for his family as they are forced to stay at home, sharing BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronavirus"Now is the time to be together like never before, although the dog is confused and there are too many dishes to do." The simple act of taking the dog for a walk with his daughter opens up a world of beauty found in their own neighborhood, and a very special memory to cherish for a lifetime is born. May we all be able to create such precious moments during this time.

"Life in the Time of Coronavirus" was written and performed by Kate Zentall BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronavirusin which she compares having to stay at home on the couch is not like having "to hide in the attic" and that we need to remember "birds can find life and even sing while living in a cage." Her positive message to always make the best in the worst of times will hopefully inspire all of us to look for the good and not focus on the negative aspect of having to self-isolate.

"Dear Dad" performed by Lisa Cirincione tells the story of the love she has for her elderly father, BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronavirusrecently confined to Nursing Home due to his failing health. "No more visitors as we used to do daily or outside food he so loves like Matzo Ball soup and chocolate milkshakes." Ending with her heartfelt thanks for the "angels" who are keeping him safe and have become "part of the family," she promises to bring each of them the biggest chocolate milkshake she can find when she can hug each of them personally in appreciation for their dedication.

Ending the performance was another song by Andrew Fromer, accompanied by the cast and production team members.

BWW Review: INSIDE OUR TIME: STORIES FROM THE SHELTERING Offers True Tales Told During the Time of Coronavirus"This is the first time JWT submitted some of its original work to be included in a festival," Producer/Director Susan Morgenstern says, "so I was delighted that we were invited to participate! As our reach expands across the country, we embrace this opportunity to showcase our original material, our actors, and our unique hybrid theatre/storytelling style in our ongoing mission to challenge minds, move hearts, and unify people around the world who hunger for timely and timeless stories."

With limited live performances of "Inside our Time: Stories from the Sheltering" during the National Women's Theatre Festival in North Carolina, I invite you to enjoy all 31 selections from the Jewish Women's Theatre "Inside our Time" series at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwcS_btq2alRqdqLTvHI-uhkL9fZT1d6y

Screenshots captured by Shari Barrett


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