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Page Hosts Big City Actress

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This Tuesday, a one-woman show lit up Page House, despite dark themes. The performance of “Rose” by Michael Sherman starred Twin Cities actress Sally Wingard and was co-hosted by the Departments of Judaic Studies and Dance.

A story of war, religion and mourning, the protagonist Rose lived through pogroms in Ukraine, the Warsaw ghetto, and the beginnings of the formation of Israel.

The entire epic tale was recited from a sitting position on center stage, the actress never even changing characters. Despite this seemingly simple staging, the audience was entranced from beginning to end. Wingard did not need anything else besides her facial expressions that could have told the story without any words; each was so precise and accurate.

Every movement and stage direction had a very specific purpose. Sitting on the wooden bench was a key element for the story as she was supposedly sitting Shiva—a Jewish tradition in which one must sit and mourn the dead.

The audience was small but the intimate setting of folded chairs and Chinese lanterns lent itself well to the story telling format of the show. In fact, the fourth wall was often broken as late coming viewers would be welcomed or a question for more water was raised.

Despite the show being writ- ten in the late nineties, the issues the story raised are still extremely relevant. The piece grappled with the struggles of European Jews in the 20th century while also questioning the violence, at the time newly resurging, in the nation of Israel. In addition to showing the historical progression of events, the show also

dealt with more philosophical is- sues such as the cycle of time and its effect on the human mind.

The show ended with an unexpected twist that forced the audience to question the entire story. In short, the tale made you think about life, love, death, and purpose. This self-reflecting audience member was too focused on her own thoughts to offer a criticism besides this one: that it was not longer.

The performance is currently traveling through Minnesota colleges and homes with the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company. As the coordinator of the visit and director of the Judaic Studies program Stacy Beckwith said, “They found us. They’ve been sending us their promotional stuff for years wanting us to come up the them” until this type of performance was decided upon.

When the company began discussions with Beckwith, “they wanted a living room. Not a living room set, but an established living room…to recreate what it would be like if you walked into a house in bereavement and were visiting people in shiva.”

Because of her extensive work with Page House East, the Jewish Interest House, Beckwith had the idea for the space for the performance. “Residents know when they apply that they will be helping with [frequent] Jewish-related public functions,” she noted, so the residents were helpful in preparation for the performance.

“It was unfortunate that it was on the same night as #BlackLivesMatter, which was not planned,” she said, “[but] the show would have dovetailed onto the event well, and with the discourse going on in Northfield, I think [the performance] was timely.”

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