I am sitting here eating a small piece of bread. It is good bread and I know good bread. When I was downsized at the age of 58 one of the items on my “bucket list” was to learn to bake good homemade bread. I can still whip up a pretty decent loaf of pumpkin chocolate chip or banana nut bread as well as a whole wheat/rye combo loaf (with caraway seed, thank you). As I found out over the course of my “breaducation, you do not simply “make bread”. You put a little bit of your soul into it every time you bake. It is this “soul” or “love” that makes the bread so good.
Where I got this wondrous piece of bread was on stage in the Ohio Theatre at PlayhouseSquare after a performance of “Not By Bread Alone”, being performed by members of Na Lagàat Deaf-Blind Theater Company from Israel. In the course of 70 minutes (the time it takes for good bread to bake), the company serves up a series of introspections about being challenged as well as the dreams that they still cling to with all their heart and soul. Some of the actors are totally deaf and blind, some with limited faculties, some for all their life and some over the course of time. They perform this show with the same “soul” and “love” that goes into their bread making.
At first glance, and for that matter through the entire show, you begin to wonder if the cast is actually impaired. They walk the stage with great ease and confidence but in the program notes you discover their secret. They have been rehearsing this play for two years in order to get it perfect. Aided by sighted assistants when needed, they pull off a remarkable performance, in fact a near perfect performance.
Something else that you sense during the show is that the actors are not out to elicit your pity. They are strong and courageous individuals who by being on stage in front of hundreds of audience members is far more challenging than most of us could dream of accomplishing. You get the feeling of pride, independence, love and hope and this is what you take home with you at the end of the show.
The set consists of a bakery with three ovens on the left, tables on which the actors work the bread center stage, shelves with example of various breads and baking impliments behind them, a balcony on the far right and a chair and desk on which sits a Braille typewriter. The lighting is used to highlight the various segments of the vignettes without being too overwhelming. The sound is well balanced through the course of the play.
There is retrospection, dreams, hopes, fears and yes quite a bit of slapstick comedy that is very funny to behold. They talk of their loss and what they have gained. They talk of a friend who was in rehearsal with them but passed away at the age of 26 after traveling by himself to Israel from Russia even though he was totally deaf and blind. In fact they dedicate an entire segment of this man’s dream of performing in Italy). In the finale, a sight and hearing challenged couple decide to get married. She is able to hear a bit with hearing aids and plays him a love song on an electric keyboard which he “listens to” by feeling the vibration off the instrument. The entire show is one little gem after another and at times there is so much action that it is like watching a ten ring circus.
After the show, the entire audience is invited onstage to visit with the various cast members through the help of interpreters. I was able to chat with Bat-Sheva Rabansari by talking to a translator (in English) who translated to another woman (in I believe Russian) who signed onto Bat-Sheva’s hand thus we were able to communicate. It was a wonderful conversation that again illustrated that all barriers to communications can be lifted if only we try.
So if you are feeling a bit under the weather due to the extra long “winter that will not go away” or your feeling a bit blue and sorry for yourself for whatever reason, I suggest you get out and see one of the last three Cleveland performances that will be on Thursday and Saturday. I guarantee it will open your eyes and ears to a whole different and wonderful world that you may have forgotten existed. As is put to song during the show “Savor the moment, inhale its perfume” and “Swaying before the beauty of creation”.
Just for the record, I am really happy doing what I am doing with my life right now as a professional photographer and writer, and an evening like this makes me realize that life truly is precious and beautiful and there are blessings enough for everyone.
Prude Alert: This is a totally clean and wholesome show good for the entire family, if fact I would recommend it for all children old enough to appreciate good performances.
Shooting From The Lip (My Last Words): Na Lagàat Deaf-Blind Theater Company’s “Not By Bread Alone” will dig deep into your soul and stir emotions that you have not felt for quite some time. As the smell of fresh baked bread caresses the air of the theater you will find yourself changing just like the bread; from a lump of pasty dough to a culinary golden brown delight that can bring love and wonder to everyone’s hearts.
Rafi Akoa, Shmuel Haberman, Itzik Hanina, Zipora Malca, Igor Osherov, Yuri Osherov, Bat-Sheava Rabansari, Shoshana Segal, Evgenia Shtesky, Yuri Tverdobskyy and Mark Yaroski.
Nadejda Vaseva, Mordechai Eliyzhu Messeca, Yoav Chorev, Lolita Mirson, Orya Tal, Rani Gilon, Noam Havkin, Mahmoud Ebn Bari, Tomer Levin, Li Meidan and Talal Alziadna.
Ora Pachnon and Albert Mosaeyv.
Created By Adina Tal (and Nalaga'at Deaf-Blind Theater Ensemble), Concieved and Directed by Adina Tal, Original Music by Amnon Baaham, "Dancing Closely" written and performed by Zvi Tal, Set Design by Eithan Ronel, Costume Design by Dafna Grossman, Lighting Design by Ori Rubinstein, Props by Liron Koren, Executive Producer (Internaitonal Tour) Arktype/Thomas O. Kriegsmann and Associate Producer is Jenny E. Goetz.
Presented with the generous support from the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection, a program of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.
Just three performances left, March 20 & 22, 2014 (there is no performance scheduled for Friday, March 21, 2014)
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Saturday, March 22, 2014
6:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Tickets are $60, $45, $25 & $10 Smart Seats, on sale at the PlayhouseSquare ticket office , online at playhousesquare.org or by calling (216) 241-6000.
Not By Bread Alone / Created and performed by Nalaga'at Deaf-Blind Acting Ensemble / Directed by Adina Tal
PlayhouseSquare is a world-class, not-for-profit performing arts center, arts education champion and downtown developer.