Congregation Emanu-El Synagogue (photo from Bema Productions)
Bema Productions, directed by Zelda Dean, is bringing the play Peace Talks to the Victoria Fringe Festival, Aug. 25-Sept. 4. Performances will take place at Congregation Emanu-El Synagogue’s Black Box Theatre, 1461 Blanshard St., pictured above.
Written and performed by Izzy Salant and Ryan Dunn, this run will be a world première of the work that saw a virtual staged reading in early 2021. Since that time, the playwrights continued to develop their play and raise the necessary funds to meet their goal of touring the show to university and college campuses in both Canada and the United States.
Peace Talks addresses the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Noam watches helplessly as his best friend Andrew dies in an explosion right in front of him in a hookah bar in Israel. Noam believes he was responsible. After the catastrophe, Andrew’s bereaved American brother James sets out on a revenge plot against Israel and against Noam, as he also believes Noam is responsible for Andrew’s death. He puts his plan into action, actively sabotaging Israeli advocacy and promoting anti-Zionism to anyone who will listen, ultimately attempting to attain his true goal: to kill Noam.
James and Noam find themselves in a bitter internal and external struggle with Israel, Zionism, death, human rights, and Andrew’s memory. As they clash, they both discover some harsh realities of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and that it is a world that isn’t as clear-cut as they thought.
For tickets to Peace Talks, visit victoriafringe.com.
– Courtesy Bema Productions
Nicholas Guerriero as John Lennon, left, and Perry Burton as his Jewish lawyer, Leon Wildes, in Bema Productions’ rendition of Mazel Tov, John Lennon by David Wells, which had a virtual run at the Victoria Fringe Festival this year (photo from Bema Productions). Based on the true story of the Nixon administration’s attempt to deport John Lennon because of his political activism against the war in Vietnam, it is a fascinating play about a lesser-known aspect of American history. The years-long case ultimately led to various changes in the country’s immigration laws.
“I was so happy to be back in live rehearsal after a year-and-a-half, and had tears in my eyes at the first rehearsal,” director Zelda Dean told the Independent. “Of course, we all wore masks until near the end. This is the 142nd show I have directed in my long career and the first time that I couldn’t see the expression on the actors’ faces while we were working together. Of course, their masks came off at the last few rehearsals and at the filming of the show [by Jason King] and, by then, everyone was fully vaccinated. A new experience and I was delighted to learn much and develop new techniques. I am always grateful to learn from the many skilled artists I am privileged to work with.”
Bema Productions presents the Canadian première of the comedy O My God at Congregation Emanu-El Synagogue in Victoria, Jan. 16-26. In O My God by Israeli playwright Anat Gov, God walks into a therapist’s office suffering from depression. The therapist asks, “How long have you felt this way?” God says, “Two thousand, five hundred years. Give or take.” “You’ve been depressed for 2,000 years and only now you’ve come to therapy? What were you waiting for?” asks the therapist. And God says, “I thought time would heal.”
Gov, who died of cancer at 58, was born in 1953, and was a graduate of Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts. She was briefly a student in Tel Aviv University’s theatre department – she dropped out to become a successful playwright and television writer. She also married and was a mother of three and grandmother of two.
The Bema Productions staging of O My God is directed by Zelda Dean and performed by Christine Upright (the therapist), Rosemary Jeffery (God) and Jesse Wilson, who is on the autism spectrum himself, plays the autistic son of the therapist.
Tickets ($23) can be purchased online at ticketrocket.co or at the door.