A Midsummer Night's Dream, culture, Jerusalem, Shakespeare, Theater in the Rough

The Sound of Laughter in Jerusalem

Culture is alive and well in Jerusalem. Well, I’m assuming that it’s always been alive and well and that perhaps I’m the one who’s coming out of her shell. Raising kids and changing diapers for 14 years straight has a way of keeping you from too many night-time cultural activities. But lately, we’ve decided that we need to take the older kids (and the younger ones when appropriate) to cultural events.

And so, when the Theater in the Rough advertised their series of programs in the Bloomfield Gardens behind the King David Hotel, we were determined to find the time to go. This theater troupe is completely volunteer and the shows are free of charge with a suggested donation. 

We told Matan and Yehuda that we were taking them for some culture tonight to see a Midsummer Night’s Dream and we spent the car ride explaining who Shakespeare was and giving a brief synopsis of hundreds of years of culture and history. No problem. I put my teacher hat back on (boy do I miss that one some days!) and explained the Globe Theater, comedies versus tragedies, British culture, etc etc etc. The kids were excited, but unsure about what would unfold.

Had to eat that sushi quickly before we were up and running!

And it was more exciting than even I expected. I’ve been to outdoor Shakespeare performances in Ashland, Oregon, in Edinburgh, Scotland (where they just threw all Israeli performers out of the Fringe Festival..but that’s another story), in New York and in other locations. But there is something about enjoying the performance with the backdrop of the Old City walls looming behind the ‘stage’, and the heartbeat of Jerusalem that simply can’t be matched.

The show was fantastically performed and hysterically adapted. The actors were excellent and the plot line was easy to follow – even for my completely Israeli, Shakespeare-unschooled kids who laughed at all the right times and really seemed to ‘get it’. We enjoyed the first scene but weren’t sure if the actors were going to be moving about – or if we were. So we were a bit surprised the first time that the actors yelled “Location location location” and signaled for all of us to move.

And so we charged, 7 or 8 times from location to location, grabbing our chairs and our drinks and running ahead to see the next scene. We were giggling as we ran through the large grassy area, looking to see where we would next settle.

As the director, Beth Steinberg, said in her introduction “During this long and terrible summer, I’ve been grateful for the gift of theater. For coming together 3-4 nights a week to rehearse. For talk about love and yearning, faeries and lovers, of missed and found opportunities.”

It’s been awhile since we’ve laughed. Since we’ve giggled and had belly laughs. Tonight, the Theater in the Rough offered us a beautiful gift that I hope others will relish as much as we did. The play will be shown next week and the week after at 5:30 pm most nights. And if you aren’t in town and can’t catch it this year – make sure to be part of the fun next year and to make a much-deserved donation to this wonderful group.

Because Jerusalem needs the sound of laughter again and the cultural opportunities that such an experience affords.

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