A few months back I did a review of Barbara Lebow’s play, A Shayna Maidel. This month I was able to see that play come to life in a local production done by Baptist Bible College. I like to review plays I’ve read, but I think it’s so much more telling (and so much more difficult) to review plays I’ve seen, because, well, plays are MEANT to be seen. But this is where the waters get muddied, because a poor production of a script can often mean one loses the ability to discern what was the fault of the director/actors/production team and what was lacking in the source material.
Fortunately, BBC’s production of A Shayna Maidel was NOT a poor production, but quite good, especially for a cast of college students. The girls who played Lusia and Rose – sisters separated right before WWII, with one growing up in America and the other surviving a concentration camp in Poland – really seemed to connect with the inner emotions of their characters. This is a challenge for any actor, but especially young ones who may not have a lot of life experience to draw from. The supporting cast aptly built their characters into believable, relatable people who had suffered much, whether it be the Holocaust, loss of loved ones, or overwhelming guilt. A Shayna Maidel is a beautiful play in part because the emotions are so transcendent and these actors communicated that admirably.
I like giving this review only a few short days after World Theatre for Children and Young People Day, because I think college students still count as “young people” and are very capable of doing excellent theatre. This is especially true when they have the guidance of a good teacher/director, like Dr. Brian Maxwell who not only directed A Shayna Maidel, but has directed over 50 productions at BBC; two plays every year for the last 25 years without a break. That kind of dedication is what inspires youth in theatre not only to excel, but to pursue further theatre opportunities. One of the cast members from A Shayna Maidel is working as my stage manager for Shakespeare in the Park this summer. And I LOVE it.
This weekend and next my husband and I are off to see some local high school productions. Take a gander around your neck of the woods to see what local theatrical ventures (and female playwrights!) YOU can support!