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New Jewish Play WIDE OPEN Explores Moments Of Openness

What happens when we seize the moment? Do we find a pleasant surprise? Or a less-than-perfect outcome? And what happens when we let the moment slip away?

By: Apr. 13, 2022
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Sometimes an opportunity stares us in the face and we are too frightened to take it. Other times our head and heart are wide open and we grab hold for dear life. What happens when we seize the moment? Do we find a pleasant surprise? Or a less-than-perfect outcome? And what happens when we let the moment slip away?

These pivot points in our lives often lead to vivid and unforgettable stories, and The Braid, the go-to Jewish story company, is excited to explore them through a Jewish lens. Using its signature brand of Salon theatre, The Braid will take ten incredible, true tales of such moments and bring them to life via the performances of a talented four-person cast. Entitled Wide Open, this play will be staged in person at various Southern California locations May 1-19, live on Zoom May 15, and in person in the Bay Area on May 23. For details and tickets, visit

For years, The Braid has worked to uplift young Jewish voices by producing an annual show created by its NEXT Emerging Artist Fellowship. Now with Wide Open, The Braid is turning over the reins of one of its regular season shows to the next generation. This show will be produced by three NEXT alumni handpicked and guided by The Braid's co-founder and artistic director, Ronda Spinak. This trio - David Chiu, Vicki Schairer, and Daphna Shull - form a diverse group. Schairer and Shull are Jewish women, with Shull a member of the LGBTQ community. Chiu is an Asian-American Jew of Color. Another NEXT alumna, Julie Lanctot, will serve as assistant director and a fifth, Chelsea London Lloyd, has both written a story and will be among the cast.

The Braid sent out a call for submissions to the community and received more than a hundred stories, songs, and poems. Remarks Schairer, "We read every submission, and I am continually impressed by the talent and vulnerability of our community of writers. The process of adapting pieces to The Braid's style is a continuous master class in storytelling. Ronda's expert mentorship over the years has prepared us to take ownership of the process and work the muscles we developed as NEXT fellows."

Shull finds this play's theme to be especially illuminating, as it "allowed writers to share stories of opportunity that made huge impacts on their lives. Did they take the chance? Did they let it go? What we discovered is that no matter the decision, identities are always shaped in the process."

Lanctot finds this very relatable: "Everyone experiences a roller-coaster ride when faced with a life-changing opportunity. As an indecisive person myself, making huge decisions plagues my daily life. How cathartic it is to work on this conundrum onstage." This very universality has allowed for a rich cross-section of Jewish experiences.

Chiu reflects: "My first work with The Braid was writing for their landmark production True Colors, about the lives of Jews of Color. Now I'm impressed with how unremarkable it is to have at least one Jew of Color's story in every Salon show."

The show will be directed by The Braid's producing director, Susan Morgenstern, who along with Spinak has mentored these and the other NEXT fellows over the program's remarkable six-year run. The cast, in addition to Lloyd, includes Joshua Silverstein and Jill Remez.

To learn more about The Braid's origins, mission, and community, visit


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