The story begins when a non-observant Jew in his sixties decides he needs to have his bar mitzvah as soon as possible, and finds his faith during classes with a rabbi who’s losing hers.
This tale is just the beginning of the Canadian playwright Mark Leiren-Young’s newest work, “Bar Mitzvah Boy.” A special reading that will be followed by a panel discussion on faith and the Jewish tradition will take place on Monday, Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Fenway Community Center located at 1282 Boylston St.
“It’s a beautiful story about people who are dealing with faith and how it fits into life,” said Rebecca Price, director. “It is not just presenting Jewish art, but connecting with it.”
Presented by the Jewish Arts Collaborative (JArts), the play will give the audience a taste of this cross-generational tale directed by Becky Price and featuring local professional actors Dede Jacobs-Komisar and Stuart Hecht.
Jacobs-Komisar will be playing the rabbi, and is also the institutional giving manager at the Huntington Theatre Company. She has a background in arts administration, writing, and directing and acting.
Stuart Hecht will be playing Joe, the character looking to receive a bar mitzvah late in life. Hecht is an associate professor of theatre at Boston College and is an American theatre historian, including Jewish theater.
The play will be produced in spring 2018 as winner of the 2017 Jewish Plays Project.
Price said she would love to get the play in more productions, both here in the U.S. and in Canada.
“This is an awesome opportunity to get the play out there,” said Price. “It is a great script, and I would love to see it done in a larger production. There are some design elements such as the eternal light – it’s there before the audience comes in and an actor smashes it during the play – to see that moment come to life would be amazing.”
As of this week, Price has been working with the actors to finalize the process and practice reading the script. Price said she is really excited to see this work come to life and practice her directing skills. Usually, she spends her time with middle and high-school students and is stoked to work with professional actors.
“Especially with a Jewish play, it covers so much of what my life is and who I am as a person,” said Price.
In the past JArts, have done other events at the Fenway Community Center. The first was in May 2016, when the center hosted a hands-on cooking demo of modern Israeli street food by Avi Shemtov of the Chubby Chickpea.
“We like the Center because it serves a diverse neighborhood and is a good space for medium size events,” wrote Jim Ball the director of communications for JArts, in an email. “It’s easy to get to and known in the neighborhood – we hold events across town (the region, as well); we think it is important to bring our events to where people are, rather than having them always come to a central location.”
Tickets are pay what you wish, suggested donation is $18.