L’Shanah Tovah — Happy New Year!
Described in the program as “A true noir tale of a dancer from the wilds of Winnipeg who tangos her way through five mysterious men to her ultimate dance partner, the biological father who abandoned her,” the one-act play, which was nominated for Outstanding Solo Show Production in the NY Midtown International Theatre Festival this past July, is a fascinating (IMHO) look at how the “sins of the father” can impact us long into our adult lives... and that self examination can lead to enlightenment, resolution and forgiveness.
With nothing but a bare stage and a single chair, Brown creates an atmosphere for the audience that takes hold from the very beginning of her story and keeps the observer rapt with attention throughout. OBIE-award-winning media artist Marilyn Ernst’s subtle, effective sound design enhances this production, and the hour flew by as Brown engaged the crowd with her tale of fear, rejection and revelation.
Brown, who splits her time between NYC and the Upper Delaware Valley, has been exploring these issues for a lifetime, but the last two years have been key, as she hones this piece for an audience. With dance as a metaphor, the playwright employs body movement throughout to bridge the timeline between scenes, which adds to the dreamy landscape she presents, baring her soul and sharing her tale, which ultimately leads her back home to the family and life she values above all else.
Not being Jewish, it would appear that Brown’s motivation in finding the father she never knew was never intended to elicit guilt from him, but rather to serve her with a better understanding of love, acceptance and relationships. Interesting and intimate, Nora Brown’s exploration of the parent/child relationship (or lack thereof) is clearly cathartic for her—and was thought provoking for me.
If there are any residual thoughts of abandonment (or guilt) on my mind, the Jewish holiday is a timely reminder that forgiveness is a gift not to be taken lightly, but one that can ultimately free the soul to move forward with understanding and compassion, rather than dwelling on what might have been. On Rosh Hashanah, Jews often say to each other, “May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life, which brings the promise of a good year.” The belief is that on this holiday, the names are written in the book and on Yom Kippur, 10 days later, the book is sealed. These 10 days are referred to as the “Days of Awe.” Okay, then... moving on.