Some of you have been bugging me for a while now to create a new show. As you might imagine, it takes so much to make a new work of theater (besides the money and time, and those are pretty key.) There has to be a story that grabs you, that chooses you, and it doesn’t let you go. There has to be a vision of how to tell that story in a way that excites you as an artist and a creator. And there has to be the mental space to birth the baby in peace. All that has come together for me, wonderfully, gratefully, and that’s how I come to be working on a new show about blessings and cons, about spiritual doubt and questions, and about making big choices and learning to live with them with (at least a bit of) grace. We’re calling it Choosing Akiva for now, but that title will surely change as we explore the show on its feet. By we, I mean the bare bones team: my music director, my dramaturg, my director, and me. There will be awesome, live music in this show as well, but the show has nothing to do with cabaret or Europe or the past — all things I love, but its time to shake things up a bit, and create a work about the HERE & NOW.
Here’s the gist of the show: in Paris, about a year ago, I was in the midst of a mind-storm, walking the streets and trying to decide if my boyfriend at the time was really my beshert and if I should marry him or not, when a Roma suddenly rose up in front of me with a man’s gold wedding ring in her hand. She held it out to me and said, “You need this. This is for you.” Thus begins a show which is part mystery, part wild goose chase, part circus act, part spiritual journey, and part celebration of the Talmud. The music in the show is funky and eclectic; some is original and some found, some Jewish and much not. I am wildly excited about speaking from my heart from the stage, about weaving in a Talmud story into a personal crisis and having it help, and about asking grand questions — about faith, about invisible moments of connection — which I sense are pretty universal these days.
And the best news is that I got a grant for it! Rabbi David Russo, of Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago and I were together awarded a Wexner Foundation grant with which to enhance the cultural conversation in Lakeview, and we’re making Choosing Akiva the centerpiece of that conversation. Thus, a workshop evening of the show will happen this fall, at Anshe Emet, and elsewhere in Chicago, culminating — we aim — for a full production in the winter in Chicago. Stay tuned for news and notes of inspiration and this new show comes into being!