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A new drama group formed by Harvard's Jewish student organization will present two one-act plays this weekend, as part of an effort to produce Jewish theater and to provide a theatrical forum for students who observe the Sabbath, according to student leaders of the troupe, called the Hillel Dramatics Group.
The two pieces, written by Allegra S. Goodman '89, will be performed at the Leverett House Old Library Thursday and Saturday.
Goodman, whose earlier play "Hester Meets Huck Finn" was presented at Lincoln Center last year as part of the Showcase for the National Advancement of the Arts, is also the director.
The Hillel group will perform "The Wave," the story of a meeting between a crazy student and his professor and "Oral History," the tale of an interview of an elderly Jewish woman by a Marxist feminist.
Goodman's new plays were "crying out for a forum," said Stage Manager Sarah Kozodoy '91, "and it's nice that they can be put on at Hillel." Kozodoy characterized the plays as "extremely pointed and witty."
Goodman and Alyssa S. Fishman '91 founded the theatrical group to give those Jewish students unable to work in college productions because of their religious beliefs a chance to act. Orthodox Judiasm prohibits work on Saturdays, and "a lot of plays hold their performances on Saturdays which means that observant Jews can't participate," said Daniel A. Burstein '91, an actor in the performance.
"We wanted to provide an alternative to observant students," said Goodman. But she added that the primary purpose of the performances is to "present Jewish art. Although "The Wave" is an academic play, "Oral History" deals with prejudice and inter-generational issues and is really quite ethnic."
According to Goodman, not all the participants in the production are religious Jews. "We got a much more diverse group than was originally conceived of, which made it much more interesting," Goodman said.
The Hillel group's production is being funded by several grants including one from Jewish Study Projects, which is dedicated to assisting Jewish educational and artistic endeavors. And organizers said they hope that this week's plays will be the beginning of a regular schedule of performances for the organization Plans for a second production in the spring are currently underway.
Organizers are pleased with the support and enthusiasm they have received both from Hillel members and outside students.
"People from Hillel have been very warm toward the project," said Goodman. "They even brought us food at rehearsals."
Tickets for the performance cost two dollars.
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