Theatre Or and MACC (Mizel Arts and Culture Center) presents the Colorado premiere of THE VALUE OF NAMES by Jeffrey Sweet playing now through October 14th. THE VALUE OF NAMES is a witty drama about an aging actor, Benny Silverman, who was blacklisted during the 50's and unable to find employment for years before finding success in television. His actress daughter, Norma, is cast in a play directed by his old friend who testified against him before the House of UnAmerican Activities. Now Norma wonders whether the two can reconcile. With searing wit, Benny seeks to assuage the injustice which has plagued him for years.
When asked why he wanted to direct THE VALUE OF NAMES, Director Richard Pegg responded "because it's a fascinating, even provocative choice. The central core of this piece is about forgiveness and understanding and asks many questions of those values, the prime being 'is a decision so monstrous it can't be forgiven or understood?' " Theatre Or Founder and Producing Artistic Director Diane Gilboa saw the Chicago premiere at Victory Gardens Theater in 1983, starring Shelley Berman, and never forgot it. She found the play "unsettling, unpredictable, and emotionally powerful" and hopes Denver audiences will feel similarly. Playwright Jeffrey Sweet surmises that the play receives many productions "because the blacklist keeps mutating and re-inventing itself in every political era, so the story stays relevant."
Theatre Or (Or is the Hebrew word for light), a non-profit theatre company that relocated to Denver from Durham, North Carolina, in 2010, produced the American premiere of Israeli playwright Savyon Liebrecht's Apples from the Desert last fall with MACC. Apples will now receive its second American production later this year at the prestigious Theatre J in Washington, D.C. Theatre Or has produced other American premieres of Israeli plays, notably Motti Lerner's Hard Love, and Naomi Ragan's Women's Minyan, as well as the American premiere of Peter-Adrian Cohen's To Pay the Price, based on the life of Yoni Netanyahu, at 2009's Festival of Jewish Theater and Ideas in New York. Theatre Or has also produced two festivals of staged readings of Israeli plays, including OnStageIsrael, which was hosted by the Chicago's Tony recipient Victory Gardens Theatre in 2008. For their first festival of staged readings entitled Voices from the Holy Land, Theatre Or received a special citation in the humanities from the Durham press. All performances included talkbacks with facilitators, cast, and other artistic personnel. Gilboa was also named Theatre Woman of the Year for this pioneering work.
Theatre Or aims to introduce works that the entire community would not ordinarily see anywhere else. "Our mission is to produce professional, provocative theatre with Jewish perspective and universal appeal," according to Gilboa. For information about the production and Theatre Or, contact Diane Gilboa at email@example.com and/or visit www.theatreor.com.
Theatre Or and MACC presents THE VALUE OF NAMES blacklisting audiences now until October 14th. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm (No performances 9/16 and 9/27). Post-performance talkbacks occur on 9/15, 9/22, 10/13. Tickets and more information are available by calling 303-316-6360 or online at www.maccjcc.org. The Pluss Theater at MACC (Mizel Arts and Cultural Center) is located at 350 South Dahlia in Denver, CO.
Photo Credit: Michael Ensminger
Roger Simon, Lisa Rosenhagen, and Dave Ufford
Roger Simon and Lisa Rosenhagen