Woman to Woman


How do women in Israel deal with “the situation”?
For the last two years, a group of women in Efrat and elsewhere in Gush Etzion
have taken it upon themselves “to inspire and uplift the spirits of the women
throughout Israel.” They have created a fantasy world for players and audience.

The Purim story of
Esther, on which Esther and the Secrets in the King’s Court is based,
can be viewed as a women’s story. The plight of a nation is taken into the
hands of a Jewish woman – she and she alone can save her people from destruction.

Esther and the
Secrets in the King’s Court
, intended for women-only audiences, and written
and produced by three women follows the success of last year’s production,
and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The creative team
of Sharon Katz, Toby Klein Greenwald and Arlene Chertoff, wrote and produced
Esther and the Secrets in the King’s Court with a cast of 127 women, as in
the 127 provinces ruled by Queen Esther and King Ahashverosh, as related
in the Megillat Esther. Music was written by Rivka Epstein; the production’s
musical director is Sara Halevi.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Kowalsky
The cross-generational bonding between
the women, teenagers and girls is a wonderful aspect of the total production
experience. “You become a surrogate family,” says Klein Greenwald, the director.
“For the teenagers, the experience of working with adult women who are not
either their teachers or mothers enables them to build unique collegial relationships.”
To enable as many teens as possible to benefit from the experience, the writers
created additional parts. Of the 400 women who auditioned, approximately
100 were cast. In addition, 150 young girls perform in pre-curtain time

“It gives me
a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction knowing that we [the production
team] are making so many girls and women happy, both as viewers and participants.”

“The concept
began last year as a “feel-good experience”. We thought that if we made any
money we would pass it on to terror victims wtih specific needs. Much to
everyone’s surprise, we made $30,000. The money was donated on a confidential
basis and funnelled to those in need via social workers. Ruthie Gillis, whose
husband, a physician at Hadassah Hospital, was murdered by terrorists, thanked
the cast publically, as she received help to purchase a bullet-proof car
for her family,” says Klein Greenwald. “She was only one of the many who
were helped by the funds that came in.”

For Klein Greenwald,
an educator and writer by profession, working on this play, where a significant
percentage of the cast have been directly affected by terror incidents, through
personal close calls or the loss or injury of friends or family, not much
has changed. She recalls that 26 years ago she worked with children from
Safed in the Galilee. The school where they were sleeping in Maalot, on a
school trip, was infiltrated by terrorists and they were taken hostage. Those
who survived managed to jump out of the windows of the school while they
looked on in horror as their friends and siblings were murdered.

Profits from
Esther and the Secrets in the King’s Court will go to The Gush Etzion Foundation
to help families whose lives have been devastated by terrorism, and to create
related projects in communities that have been hurt by terror.

Text by M. Kaplan-Green and J. Isaacson.


Ticket information can be found at the
show’s website.

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