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Life-Changing Personal Histories of Identity, Conflict, and Love to Come Alive in New Live Zoom Show from The Braid

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The Rest Is History, is the culmination of a year of mentoring and creativity from The Braid's NEXT Emerging Artists' Fellowship Program. 

Life-Changing Personal Histories of Identity, Conflict, and Love to Come Alive in New Live Zoom Show from The Braid

He gave Meghan Markle her first kiss, and now everyone wants to know him. She lost some of her hearing when she contracted COVID and worries she won't be able to keep singing lullabies to her four-year-old daughter. He had to tell parents that their sons had just died in Vietnam. She fell in love with a woman at a time when that kind of loving was unacceptable.

These stories and many more true personal histories come alive in the premiere of a brand-new salon show from The Braid (formerly Jewish Women's Theatre), beginning Saturday, May 15, and running through May 24.

The new show, The Rest Is History, is the culmination of a year of mentoring and creativity from The Braid's NEXT Emerging Artists' Fellowship Program. Each year, a cohort of aspiring young theatre professionals are chosen to explore how to create meaningful Jewish culture from their own perspective, under the guidance and mentorship of The Braid's artistic director, Ronda Spinak, and veteran director and The Braid's producing director, Susan Morgenstern.

"In this year of Covid, we decided to create a 'master class' with talented alum from the program of previous years," says Spinak. "The arts-makers chosen are some of the brightest and most thoughtful of their generation and have created a salon show that is entirely unique and fresh-making its own history!"

As part of her mission to train future Braid show directors, Morgenstern is also excited by the cohort's fresh approach, noting, "Every member is getting the opportunity to direct one of the show's individual stories. Then, our veteran lead director will oversee unifying all the elements into a cohesive show flow. It's inspiring to watch these future theatre-makers at work."

For tickets and additional information, visit: The-Braid.org.

This year, the cohort was passionate about focusing on the theme of personal histories set at historical moments. A call for submissions went out to the community and public at large. What came back were scores of stories about life-changing moments at specific junctures in history, some that went on to impact the rest of their lives.

Andrew Fromer, who was a member of the first cohort of NEXT Fellows and is now The Braid's assistant artistic director, also runs the NEXT Emerging Artists Fellowship program.

"We have been so overwhelmed this past year with the feeling of living through history," says Fromer. "Our feelings led us on a treasure hunt to find the stories that might have been accidentally hidden behind the headlines that we all know too well-not just from this past year, but over the last few decades. This show is going to transport audiences through time."

Safety concerns during the pandemic caused The Braid to stop performing in front of live audiences. But loyal audiences asked The Braid to continue providing new shows that would lift their spirits during this challenging time. The Braid pivoted and now presents virtual Salons of live actors performing via Zoom, introducing viewers from across the globe to their unique brand of salon theatre, at the intersection of storytelling and theatre.

This year's show will feature both hilarious and heartbreaking stories. And Then She Kissed Me, by actor/author Joshua Silverstein, explains what happened to him when then-actress Meghan Markle answered a very personal question as a guest on Larry King Live. When King asked Markle to name the first person she ever kissed, she said, "Joshua Silverstein"! On TV! For the world to hear! What happened to him as a result of this summer-camp moment when he and the girl who is now Duchess of Sussex were 14-and what is still happening to him as a result today-is revealed in his story, commissioned by The Braid, and will be a sure cure for COVID blues.

The Braid's talented actors will also bring to life stories about the unexpected consequences when an 11-year-old Jewish boy is selected to perform a choir solo that praises Jesus. Audiences will also meet a young New York lawyer who starts work just one day before 9-11 and must pretend to be a Scientologist in order to volunteer to help those in need, and how her awkward experience leads her to seek comfort and community in shul on the next Sabbath.

"These are three examples of the stories in this production," says Daphna Shull, an alumna of the Fellowship who now serves as creative associate with The Braid and literary manager of this show. "This year's theme allowed us to dive deeply into humanity's relationship with history. One of the most compelling realizations we found is how frequently stories can transcend time and place. Each story featured touches on this notion and speaks to the relationship we have with ourselves, with others, and with the world at large."

There are also stories about the difficulty of explaining the Holocaust to great-grandchildren of those who died at Auschwitz. And a young woman describes how she struggled when her family traveled south to visit what she learned was a racist branch of her family tree. Another woman discusses how hard it was to live in a world before J-Date and match.com made it possible to truly find one's beshert.

One of the most powerful stories, by Paul Itkin, documents his time as a next-of-kin duty officer whose job was telling parents and spouses that their sons had been killed in Vietnam. And there are lighter moments when the son of a Lithuanian Jewish mother and Asian father has to check just one box that will give his race to college admissions officers.

This year's NEXT Emerging Artists Fellows are David Chiu, Amanda Horowitz, Zak Lempert, Julie Lanctot, Isaac "Izzy" Salant, Vicki Schairer, and Aysha Wax, who is the lead directing fellow.

The Braid's NEXT Emerging Artists Fellowship Program and its production of The Rest Is History is made possible in part by the generous support of the Erwin Rautenberg Foundation, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, the City of Santa Monica and Gail Solo.

Student tickets begin at just $10, with general admission at $20, household tickets for two or more viewers from the same household at $25, and VIP tickets that include pre-performance discussion and other benefits at $36. Visit The-Braid.org to purchase tckets and get additional information.

The Braid is the 2020 winner of The Argonaut's Best of the Westside's "Best Live Theatre Award" and The Santa Monica Daily Press award for "Most Loved" performance. The Braid presents inspiring Jewish stories, art, and other programming that highlight Jewish experiences and culture in contemporary life. Now in its 13th (bat mitzvah) season, The Braid's salon theatre of original dramatic shows, each written to a specific theme, displays the diverse and eclectic community of writers, artists, and creators who celebrate Jewish life, one story at a time.


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