Thank You Bēma for Until the Flood!

Thank you, Bēma & partners for bringing Until the Flood to Congregation Emanu-El. I felt privileged to witness the exposure of the many faces of racism—everyone on stage used a personal camera customized from their own psychological, educational and cultural parts. The multifaceted nature of anti-black racism was moved front of stage. As I had recently watched the movie Mississippi Burning, this play addressing contemporary events prompted me to realize that the difference in racism between then and now was only in the veneer. For those wanting to talk about racism, Until the Flood provides a strong departure point. Congratulations to the cast and the companies for their solid delivery of this important theatrical work.

Frances Rosenberg
Congregation Emanu-El

Bēma Productions:  Until the Flood

Opens Thursday, December 2, 2021, 7:30 pm in Bēma’s Black Box Theatre. Leipzig ends on November 21, 2021, and the kudos are pouring in for that wonderful production. Until the Flood by Dael Orlandersmith moves into Bēma’s Black Box Theatre on Thursday, December 2, 2021—following it’s run at Langham Court Theatre as part of the collaboration between three theatre companies. So, if you missed it there, here is your opportunity to see this powerful and timely play.

Until the Flood is a gripping and insightful docudrama drawn from extensive interviews following the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer. Orlandersmith creates composite characters who reflect a wide range of perspectives and experiences of racial prejudice, hatred, and self-righteousness that embodies the many faces of the community rallying for justice and reveals a country yearning for truth and justice. Until the Flood compels us to face the truth and only by awareness can we find the crucial sense of hope. This play is entertainment rich in the enlightenment and provocation that makes theatre exciting and dangerous.

Critics quotes:

Chicago Tribune. “A stunning theatrical experience that is palpably compassionate and Must be seen”

New York Times. “She brings the questions, the pain, and the unspeakable thoughts of hundreds, if not millions, to life. An urgent moral inquest!” The Guardian

Tickets may be purchased here. For further information contact Zelda Dean.

Bēma Productions Presents Leipzig

Opens Thursday, November 11, 2021—Bēma Productions opens an eight live performance run of the multiple award-winning play LEIPZIG on Thursday, November 11, 2021 in its black box theatre at Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard Street, Victoria BC. Leipzig explores the journey of a three-member Irish Catholic Boston family  when the mother descends into Alzheimer’s and begins praying in Hebrew, unwittingly revealing her long-held secret that she is Jewish, a child refugee of the Holocaust. The play is a beautiful exploration of religious identity, loyalty, parental bonds and attendant feelings of safety or threat. It is a plea for inclusion at a time of fear and religious polarization and a story of the impact on the second generation.

Continue reading Bēma Productions Presents Leipzig

Bēma back “virtually” in Victoria Fringe Festival 2021

Mazel Tov, John Lennon is compelling, humourous, and based on the true story of the Nixon administration’s attempt to deport John Lennon. Directed by Zelda Dean—with Nicholas Guerreiro as John Lennon, and Perry Burton as Leon Wildes—this play makes today’s headlines echo in our heads with the currency of history and the story of a cultural icon. Vietnam war protests are at their peak, and John Lennon walks into the office of an eminent immigration lawyer. As ultra-laid-back Lennon and the strait-laced lawyer navigate Lennon’s stormy immigration case, an unlikely kinship unfolds, while both men gain a greater understanding of friendship, personal values, and patriotism.
 
The Fringe guide, website and tickets will all launch on Wednesday, August 4, 2021. Our digital run of Mazel Tov, John Lennon will be featured in Week 3 of the Victoria Fringe: August 27 to September 2. Tickets will be $13, and audiences can purchase to view our show on demand, anytime during this one week timeframe. You will receive instructions on how to view when you register:

Bēma presents The Wendy Chronicles

Bēma Productions invites you to a reading of a captivating new play by Karen Fix Curry—The Wendy Chronicles—about the remarkable Wendy Wasserstein, author of The Heidi Chronicles, and the first woman to win a Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer for play writing, who gave a voice to the emerging women’s movement at the second half of the 20th century.

Directed by Zelda Dean with Christine Upright as Wendy Wasserstein, The Wendy Chronicles is Wendy’s own remarkable life story as told by Wendy herself, in the style of her award-winning plays. It comes alive with humor, shining a light on her goal of creating real women in plays, with all their problems and frustrations. It’s all about choices, because you can’t really have it all!

The live performance will be available on Zoom on Sunday, March 7 at 2 pm PST and Wednesday, March 10 at 7 pm PST. The play lasts for about an hour. You are welcome to stay & chat with Karen, Zelda and Christine following the reading.   

  • To attend a live performance on March 7 at 2 pm PST or March 10 at 7 pm PST CLICK here
  • The recorded performance will be streamed on YouTube March 11 – 14, 2021 at this CHANNEL…

Bēma appreciates donations ($10.00 is welcome).  CLICK HERE to donate.

Bēma successfully opens “The Gates”

GatesBēma was delighted at the response to the reading of the play, The Gates are Closing at Congregation Emanu-El on Saturday, September 21. The reading was followed by Havdalah, and Sliḥot services. The audience of approximately fifty included members of the congregation familiar with Yom Kippur services and others who were intrigued by the subject.

The Gates are Closing was discovered by Bēma team member Annie Weeks, who was so taken by the poem “Home” in the new Lev Shalem Siddur (page 181) that she contacted Merle Feld, the author, to happily find out that as well as being a poet, Merle was also a playwright. Gates is a play that was written specifically to be read by members of a synagogue congregation prior to the High Holy Days. It has been performed since its 1986 première in New York in hundreds of congregations world-wide.

The Gates are Closing takes place during the evening of Yom Kippur, the morning, and the late afternoon of the next day. Through its ten characters, the piece speaks thoughtfully and eloquently to the various struggles that each one of us brings to the forefront of our minds on these days of awe. The voices of the characters are interspersed with highlights of the Yom Kippur service, including the sounding of a shofar at its end.

Members of the Jewish community who presented the reading were: Katya Delancey, Rick Kool, Rabbi Harry Brechner, Howard Herzog, Benjy de la Vega, Eva Stanger-Ross, Danielle Weisz, Barbara Pelman, Miriam Waldman and Aaron Severs. Each reader was outstanding. Direction was provided by Zelda Dean and stage management by Susan Holtz.

As well as the audience taking away insights from the experience, each reader did the same.

“A fine reading of a play that touches on so many human life experiences. The readers were very talented and their stories came alive with each one, humbling me to the scale of our vulnerabilities and struggles. No sugar coating, just real life at the gate.” —Nancy Issenman, audience member.

“This was my first time acting as a character, not writing about one. But I could feel Joan’s pain as my own, and all the others as well. Each story blended into the other. The monologues were powerful, and the voices together felt like a whole community searching for forgiveness, for wholeness.” —Barbara Pelman, reader.

“It was a privilege to be given this opportunity. The play challenged me to do my “heshbon nefesh” (internal soul accounting) in preparation for the Days of Awe. It also reminded me that we come together as a community of imperfect beings, each with our individual and collective issues. Somehow, during this High Holiday period, we manage to find some transformation and answers.” —Aaron Severs, reader.

Bēma initiates our Leil Sliḥot service with a reading of The Gates are Closing

The Gates are Closing Jewish 1000Saturday, September 21, 2019 7 pm — This year Congregation Emanu-El will introduce our Sliḥot prayers for the High Holy Days in an unusual way, a reading of the award-winning contemporary play, The Gates Are Closing. Beginning Saturday, September 21 at 7 pm preceding the traditional Sliḥot service, 10 members of the Jewish community will take the parts of a varied yet inspired minyan of Jews in the synagogue on Yom Kippur as they grapple with issues of identity, meaning, repentance and forgiveness.

This award-winning play had its first staged reading at the Jewish Repertory Theatre in New York in May 1986. Since then it has been presented in hundreds of synagogues and college campuses from Brooklyn to Beijing, including a signed performance by Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf in Arleta, California.

Over the years many rabbis and congregations have treasured the play including Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, who described it as “a drama of great religious insight and nuance, instigating probably the most thoughtfully lively High Holy Day preparation our congregation ever had.”

The playwright, Merle Feld, is a widely published poet whose work frequently appears in anthologies and prayer books including the new Conservative High Holy Day Maḥzor Lev Shalem, the Siddur Lev Shalem, and the Reform Movement Women’s Torah Commentary. She is also the author of a popular memoir in poetry and prose, A Spiritual Life: Exploring the Heart and Jewish Tradition (SUNY Press, revised 2007) and a recent book of her poems, Finding Words (URJ Press, 2011).

Feld is moved and delighted that The Gates are Closing, written early in her career, has retained its urgency and spiritual power for such a vast audience nationally and internationally. “It feels miraculous to me that every fall these characters come to life again—in Philadelphia and San Diego, Youngstown and Nashville, Virginia, Arizona, San Antonio, Australia, and London—and that these characters continue to provide a gateway for Jews across the denominations who are searching for meaning.”

A Little Crazy: Bēma at the Fringe

A Little Crazy - NL BemaBēma Productions is thrilled to present their fifth Victoria Fringe Festival production, the comedy “A Little Crazy” written by Joseph Reed Hayes, directed by Zelda Dean and performed by Toshik Bukowiecki & Michael Rodgers.  All performances take place at Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard Street, Victoria.

Thursday August 22, 7 pm
Sunday August 25, 2 pm
Monday August 26, 7 pm
Tuesday August 27, 7 pm
Wednesday August 28, 7 pm
Thursday August 29, 7 pm
Sunday September 1, 2 pm

TICKETS: $11 are available online from at victoriafringe.com or ticketrocket.co or in person at Ticket Rocket Lounge: 10 am–5 pm, Monday to Friday at 1050 Meares Street and at Fringe HQ beginning August 20: noon–7 pm daily at 2–1609 Blanshard (at Fisgard, across from Romeo’s), or at the door.

Bēma Productions: We are the Levinsons

BEMALevinsonsLogo-CEnewsletterMay 9 to 23, 2019, Congregation Emanu-El Synagogue, 1461 Blanshard StreetBēma Productions is proud to present our 2019 Mainstage production, the Canadian Premiere of We Are The Levinsons by Wendy Kout. The story details the phenomenon of the “sandwich generation” — adults caring for both children and aging parents — through the lens of one family’s momentous year. Continue reading Bēma Productions: We are the Levinsons

First Annual Readers Theatre Festival

Readers Theatre image

Weekend January 26/27, 2019Bēma Production’s next venture is an exciting weekend of Reader’s Theatre in January 2019. The festival will run in the now familiar Bēma “black box” which we create in Congregation Emanu-El‘s social hall. This style of theatre allows the audience to imagine the action from hearing the script read aloud without sets, costumes or props. The readers of the three festival plays have been carefully chosen through auditions from inside and outside the Congregation Emanu-El community. It will be a weekend filled with laughter, sadness and challenges. Please come and enjoy one play, or even all three. Tickets are now available at https://www.ticketrocket.co/event/season/346 Continue reading First Annual Readers Theatre Festival