thank you, New york!
Genesis Plays Festival
A thank you from Cofounding Artist, Jon Adam Ross following the conclusion of the 3-week Genesis Plays Festival at the 14th St Y.
We’ve finally slept. We’ve finally done laundry. We’ve, at long last, spent quality time with our loved ones, written in our journals, taken trips, gone swimming, and (did we mention?) slept. Three and a half years ago the Covenant Foundation lit a match that sparked a wildfire called The In[heir]itance Project. Three and a half years ago we never could have imagined how far it would spread or how big it would grow. To be honest, it’s unclear we had any sense of how far we’d come until the wee hours of Sunday Morning May 20th. Jon sitting in a chair in the audience after it was all over eating a donut; Chantal directing (of course) everyone into a group shot of exhausted cast and crew around an equity cot; Ariel giving one last curtain speech inviting people to keep asking the questions we’d written on the wall outside the theater. Only after all that, only after the curtain speech and the photo and the donut, could we begin to reflect. 41 performances of 5 different plays, 14 community events, 8 talkbacks in just 19 days. And New York showed up! Some of you could only make it to one performance of one show. Some came back over and over again to see all five plays. There were deep conversations started, big questions asked, and lots and lots of on-stage bodyslams.
(L-R) Jon Adam Ross & Darian Dauchan in The Rebecca Play
When we started this project, we didn’t know we were creating a network of communities engaging with art as a tool for mining their inherited wisdom in the name of building and sustaining connection to the past and to each other. But that’s what happened. Over the course of the festival, representatives flew in from Minneapolis, Charleston, Austin, Seattle and Kansas City to see the plays they helped create and the others we created along the way. We had student groups in our audience, and social justice warriors, famous actors and influential teachers. A performance of The Sarah Play was attended by Muslim and Jewish members of an interfaith alliance who sat after for a Rammadan Iftar/Shabbat dinner. A yeshiva brought it’s staff. A high school brought it’s entire freshman class. We discussed race and the bible with Rev. Derrick McQueen and Rabbi Amichai Lau Lavie and social justice with Ruth Messinger. We made art that asks questions and then we invited the audience to ask some more. Special thanks to Hadar, Avoda, Heschel, Ramaz, Lab/Shul, The Greenhouse, Mohammad Modarres, Hussein Rashid, Shula Strassfeld, Caroline Rothstein, the amazing performers (Izzy Wolfson, Jon Levin, Denise Manning, Brandon Blake, Luis Ordaz Guittierez, Angelica Mondol Viana, Marian Goitia, Jon Dalin, Stephanie Dauman, Stephanie Rocio, Idris Groves, Kevin Baez, and Darian Dauchan) and the creative team (Stacey Boggs, Andja Budincich, Deb O, Caroline Fausine, Zhailon Levingston, Megan McClain, Ilana Trachtman, Tyler Winthrop, Zija Lubin-West, Rachel April, Phoenix Lion, and Eli Reid), to our awesome producer Martha Goode, to the wonderful folks at Kampfire PR, and especially thank you to The Covenant Foundation, Ronit Muzkatblit, Kryssy Wright, David Stallings, Shira Koch Epstein, and the entire team at LABA, and the 14th Street Y Theater.
But that’s just the New York story. Zoom out! Over 2500 people have seen a performance of one of the Genesis Plays around the country. Over $13,000 has been raised for local artists and arts organizations. And we’re just getting warmed up! If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one there to witness it, does it make a sound? If artists bring a national theater series of devised plays to NYC, and there’s a bunch of people there to witness it, what sound does that make? To us - the sound is one of deep gratitude, immense satisfaction, and a burning desire to go out there and do it all again. Omaha is next. And Nofolk. And Memphis. And Cincinnati. But stay tuned, NYC. We promise we’ll bring it all home again.