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BAD JEWS
By Joshua Harmon

Directed by Michael Jay 
Stage Managed by Ben Cantor Adams

Featuring:
Tristyn Sepersky as Daphna
Kevin Paquette as Jonah
Josh Telepman as Liam
Rachel Hall as Melody
Sydney T. Grant as u/s Daphna & Melody

Lighting, Scenic, and Sound Design by Michael Jay
Costumes, Props, and Set Dressing by Josh Telepman
Violence Design by Sydney T. Grant

 

"Am I a Jew? Yes, I'm a Jew. But I'm not, I really have no religion, you know what I mean? I'm just Jewish in that it like oozes out of my pores uncontrollably."

-Sarah Silverman

A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR

What is a Jew?

 

According to ancient tradition, you're only a Jew if your mother was a Jew. Nowadays, many believe that you can claim Jewish heritage with a Jewish parent on either side. And for Taglit (or Birthright), the program that sends young Jewish adults on an all-expense paid trip to experience Israel, you just have to SAY you're Jewish (They claim that you must have at least 1 Jewish parent, but, like, they don't check). What of converts? What of Jewish-born agnostics and athiests?

 

Judaism means many things to many people. As the saying goes, ask 3 Jews what being Jewish is and you'll get 4 answers. For some, what matters is the religion - the ritual, the prayer, the weekly (or daily) visits to the synagogue. For others, going to synagogue is not a religious affair, but a social one (an old joke: "Mr. Shapiro goes to synagogue to talk to God, Mr. Mendelson goes to talk to Mr. Shapiro). Others still don't go to synagogue at all - to them, Judaism is a culture, or an ethnicity, or even a quaint set of family traditions. Some find meaning in the history of the people - and there is a LOT of history.

 

My Jewish identity was forged in large part by my relationships with my mother's parents, my Bubby and Zadie. They lived 20 minutes away from where I grew up. On holidays, or during their regular weekend visits, I would experience their Judaism up close before they drifted back home, back across the generational gap. Zadie, a soft-spoken and devout survivor of the holocaust, and Bubby, a brash and witty college-educated Hebrew school teacher, were very different from each other, but each fiercely and uniquely Jewish.

 

We don't learn much about Poppy, the patriarch of the Haber/Feygenbaum family, whose passing is the catalyst for the events of our play. We know he was a survivor of the Holocaust, and we know that he was kind, and funny, and a pillar of the community. But much of what we learn about Poppy we can only guess from the impression he leaves behind on his three grandchildren. Like an old footprint in the mud, we can only guess at his true weight, his true shape, from the hole he has left. For Daphna, Liam, and Jonah, this hole is fresh, raw, and aching. Poppy's funeral was only hours before the beginning of our play. As each character asserts that their their memory of Poppy - their version of Judaism - is the one that is true and correct, we watch them struggle to come to terms with what they need more than anything: to grieve.

 

My Bubby passed away last year, and my Zadie five years before that. The hole that they left in me was enormous, but that footprint could never do justice to all that they were, and all that they meant to everyone around them. But, months and years later, all that I can do is look at that footprint, those memories, and cherish them. I dedicate this show to them. I hope you all can find as much meaning in it as I have, and I hope you enjoy the show.

Michael

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Ben Cantor-Adams

Stage Manager

Ben Cantor-Adams couldn’t be happier to be making his debut as stage manager for Bad Jews with Yorick Ensemble! After doing tech for productions such as Curtains and Avenue Q while attending Needham High School, Ben wandered away from theater to pursue a bachelor’s degree in history from McGill University. Unable to stay away for too long, Ben feels blessed to have gotten the chance to return to stage work with Bad Jews. He hopes you enjoy the show!

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Rachel Hall

Melody

Rachel is an actor, teaching artist, and all around storytelling enthusiast. She holds a BA in Theatre from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has worked as an educator at North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens and The Drama Studio. She has mostly performed in western Massachusetts and is very excited to be performing in Boston with Yorick Ensemble.

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Kevin Paquette

Jonah

Kevin is a Boston based actor and improviser who is thrilled to get back on stage. Some favorite credits include: A Southern Victory (Vagabond Theatre Group), Loot (Hub Theatre Company), An Education In Prudence (Open Theatre Project), A Midsummer’s Night Dream  (Theatre@First), and The Walk Across America For Mother Earth(Circuit Theatre Company) Over the past couple of years he has also been a part of The Big Times Project, a series of workshops and plays about the world of professional wrestling. In the world of comedy Kevin is currently  a member of Riot Improv (Riot Theatre Company), and the independent group TILDA. He has also appeared as a member of the groups: Pickle Jar, Rubber Chicken, and ComedyCazi. I just want to say I am very happy to be back on stage with such a lovely group. Shout out to my friends and family. You know who you are. LFG.

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Josh Telepman

Producer
Liam

Josh is the founder and creative director of Yorick Ensemble.  Previous projects with Yorick include Our Town (BroadwayWorld Award, Best Director), 35mm: A Musical Exhibition, and The Pirates of Penzance (DASH Award, Outstanding Supporting Actor).  Other credits include Lt. Barri in Passion (Theater Uncorked), Charles Granillo in Rope (The Footlight Club), Dickon in The Secret Garden (Concord Players), and Alf in Peter and the Starcatcher (Vokes). This performance is dedicated to the incomparable Jacob Rosen.

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Sydney T. Grant

Violence Designer
Understudy for Daphna & Melody 

Sydney is so happy to be joining Yorick Ensemble for Bad Jews. Sydney is a Boston based theatre artist. Recent acting credits include The Skriker and The Moors [Entropy Theatre], Macbeth [Liars and Believers], Here and There [Central Square Youth Underground], Gay shorts [Open Theatre Project], Plank [AllyCat theater], Little Women [film]. Sydney also directs and choreographs, most recently she directed Chicago with Greater Boston Stage, The Young Company. 

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Michael Jay 

Director

Michael is honored and thrilled to present Bad Jews with Yorick Ensemble. Michael has appeard with Yorick Ensemble in their inagural production of Pirates of Penzance as the Sargeant of Police, and collaborated with Josh Telepman to direct their previous production, Our Town. Michael and Josh will collaborate again to co-direct Yorick Ensembles upcoming production of The Trail to Oregon. Other acting credits include Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Curtain Call Theater), and Harold Hill in The Music Man (Savoyard Light Opera Company). Michael is enormously proud (kvelling, even) of the cast and crew of Bad Jews for all of their hard work, good humor, and talent, and hopes you enjoy the production!

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Tristyn Sepersky

Daphna

Tristyn is relieved to be performing again, after taking a hiatus in March 2020 for no reason in particular. Favorite past roles include Veronica Sawyer (Heathers/The Footlight Club - DASH Award, Best Lead Actress in a Musical 2018), Bombalurina (Cats/Star Players of Bristol County), Brooke Wyndham (Legally Blonde/The Footlight Club), and her last stage role before the mysterious hiatus, The Pirate King (The Pirates of Penzance/Yorick Ensemble). Tristyn has her MFA from The Boston Conservatory in Musical Theater Performance. She would like to thank Shlomi Zan at Hebrew College for being such an incredible Ulpan teacher, and Robert Sepersky for his dedication in maintaining ‘us’ instead of ‘them.’

Special Thanks To:
 
  • Haley Purvis, Ross Gray, and The Rockwell Staff
  • Holly Chin
  • Mitch Gordon & WCUW
  • Joel Hersh
  • Sara Jay
  • Ian Mevorach & Common Street Spiritual Center
  • Kat O'Connor
  • Lisa Rafferty
  • David Rubin
  • Douglas & Toni Telepman
  • Andrew Tierney
  • Danielle Wehner
And a very special thanks to
Merle & Danny Weiss
תודה רבה, מרים ודניאל

 The Four Sons

On Passover, we speak of four sons: One who is wise, one who is wicked, one who is simple, and one who does not know how to ask a question.

 

The wise son asks: "What are the testimonials, statutes and laws Hashem our G-d commanded you?" You should tell him about all the laws and customs of Passover, down to the very last detail about the afikomen.

 

The wicked son asks: "What does this mean to you?" To you and not to him. Since he excludes himself from the community, he has denied a basic principle of Judaism. You should blunt his teeth by saying to him: "It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt. For me and not for you. If you were there you would not have been redeemed."

 

The simple son asks: "What is this?" You should say to him, "With a strong hand Hashem took me out of Egypt, from the house of servitude."

 

And as for the one who does not know how to ask, you must start for him, as the Torah says: "And you should tell your son on that day, saying 'It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt.'"

Points of Inspiration

A few pieces of media that influenced our production...

We'll let the work speak for itself. 

A Few Good Men, dir. Rob Reiner, 1992

Angels in America by Tony Kushner

The Ben Shapiro Show

Gal Gadot "Imagine" Video 

God of Carnage, by Yasmina Reza

Hadestown by Anais Mitchell
Marriage Story, dir. Noah Baumbach, 2019

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Nickelodeon
The Shining, dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1980

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Neversoft, 1999
Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox News
Yosemite Sam, created by Friz Freleng, 1945
The Zax by Dr. Seuss