25 Questions for a Jewish Mother is a perfect play to be performed in this setting. It's a two-person cast, and basically a conversation between two women, telling many women's stories, that doesn't require any specific set or scene changes or anything technically difficult. But what it does have is great storytelling. Written by comedian Judy Gold, along with playwright Kate Moira Ryan, it explores the relationship between the "typical Jewish mother" (spoiler alert: there is no such thing) and her children. Judy (played by Kim Kivens) talks about her relationship with her mother, which is interwoven with stories from the over 50 Jewish mothers the playwrights interviewed (all played by Laura Stearns). Questions asked include "What makes Jewish mothers different from non-Jewish mothers?" "What's your biggest regret?" "Who's your favorite Jewish mother?" and "How many times a day do you talk to your children?" Some of the mothers' stories were hilarious, some tragic, some poignant; I now know what it's like to cry under a mask!
I am neither Jewish nor a mother, but I still found the play relatable in terms of the parent/child relationship. And it also gave me new insight into where the stereotype of the Jewish mother came from. Judy explains that the shadow of death hangs over the Jewish mother as she's raising her children, because of the centuries long history of persecution of the Jewish community around the world, which unfortunately continues today.
|Laura Stearns and Kim Kivens, photo courtesy of MJTC|
Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company's live, in-person, outdoor production of the funny, poignant, and engaging 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother continues at public parks and private homes through August 30 (click here for the full schedule and locations). After that, their 26th season continues with two virtual streaming shows (an updated version of Avi Aharoni's fantastic solo autobiographical Fringe show Operation: Immigration and a Musical Revue featuring Jewish composers), and (hopefully) a return to the Highland Park Community Center next spring for The People's Violin, postponed from earlier this year.