Sneak Peek–Next Year in Jerusalem

This was certainly my most ambitious play, and perhaps my best.  We did an excellent version of it locally, with some of my favorite actors (Joe Gayton, Rich Aufiero, Rich Hotaling, Ellen Boswell, Laura Carter (now Epstein!), among many, many others).  The play is available as a Kindle ebook at http://www.amazon.com/Next-Year-in-Jerusalem-ebook/dp/B0032JTW4G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=books&qid=1292437779&sr=8-1   If you saw it or were in it, feel free to leave a review.

Also like to announce Pettiplay alum (Masquerade and The Measure of a Man) Matt Meinsen has his own website at http://www.mattmeinsen.com/  The Measure of a Man is available as a perusal script or Kindle ebook at http://www.amazon.com/Measure-Man-Brian-C-Petti/dp/1605130079/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2

Enjoy.

Next Year in Jerusalem
a play in two acts
by Brian C. Petti
PO Box 361
East Durham, NY 12423
(518) 239-6267 bcpkid AT gmail.com
Copyright © 1999/2009 by Brian C. Petti

ACT ONE

scene 1

Benjamin enters a small hotel room holding two suitcases. He is young rabbi in his thirties, dressed neatly in a dark suit. As Benjamin puts down the suitcases, Moshe follows him into the room. He is a man in his eighties, but he does not show many of the trappings of old age. He is dressed much more casually than his son.

Benjamin
Here you go, Dad.

Moshe
Where’s the rest of it?

Benjamin
What, you give a speech and you want they should put you up in the Ritz?

Moshe
I’d settle for a room bigger than a closet.

Benjamin
There’s enough room to write and sleep. What more do you want?

Moshe
I want to be home where I belong.

Benjamin
Don’t start with that again.

Moshe
Why am even doing this? What does anyone want to hear from me?

Benjamin
You lived through a lot, Dad. They want to know about it.

Moshe
Bunch of middle aged women with too much money and too much time on their hands.

Benjamin
The Jewish Ladies Auxiliary is just sponsoring it.

Moshe
They just need something to talk about the next time they play mahjong.

Benjamin
Who plays mahjong?

Moshe
Jewish Ladies Auxiliaries.

Benjamin
There will be a lot of people there tomorrow, all kinds of people, who chose to celebrate their Passovers by listening to you. It’s a great honor…

Moshe
I don’t want honor, I want sleep. In my bed. I want to be left alone to forget.

Benjamin
That’s not what Mom would have wanted.

Moshe
In 48 years of marriage I couldn’t figure out what she wanted and all of a sudden you know.

Benjamin
She just wanted you to tell what you know. (Benjamin puts a pad and paper on the small desk.)

Moshe
What I know. After 81 years on this planet, I’m still overwhelmed by the enormity of what I do not know. Ah, I’m lucky if I remember to get up in the morning.

Benjamin
That’s why I brought you the pad and pencil. Write it down as it comes to you. You should have done this a week ago. You owe it to them, Dad, you owe it to the ones that didn’t have a chance to have memories, we all do.

Moshe
Stop with the “owe” business. I was lucky. I survived. Now I just want to live and try to forget…

Benjamin
That will make a wonderful speech. “How I Forgot the Holocaust” by Moshe Zydowski.

Moshe
Don’t be sarcastic; you inherited that from your mother. Too bad you didn’t get anything useful, like your father’s good looks.

Benjamin
(Losing his patience a bit.) You promised her you would do this.

Moshe
Easy, easy…my son is so serious. The solemn rabbi. How did you become such a righteous man with me as a father? Either your mother raised you right or I didn’t corrupt you enough.

Benjamin
Maybe a little of both.

Moshe
Look at my son. Why didn’t you stop wearing your yarmulke in college and marry a shiksa like the rest of the Jewish boys?

Benjamin
Mom would have killed me dead.

Moshe
She was very proud of you.

Benjamin
I know. Let’s both of us make her proud tomorrow. I’ll unpack your suitcase and then I’ll leave you alone to think. (He begins to lay out Moshe’s clothes, and leaves an apple on the writing desk.)

Moshe
Don’t they have a TV in this place? It says in the Torah that no Jew over eighty is to go to sleep without watching the news.

Benjamin
I must have missed that passage.

Moshe
It’s right after the mahjong rule.

Benjamin
You don’t need a TV or any other distractions. You need to write.

Moshe
How about if I just tell them a few jokes? A priest and a rabbi walk into a bar…

Benjamin
No jokes, Dad. I laid out your clothes for tomorrow.

Moshe
The child has become the adult.

Benjamin
I’ll see you in the morning. (He turns to leave.)

Moshe
Benjamin. (Benjamin stops.)

Benjamin
What, Dad?

Moshe
What if I can’t remember?

Benjamin
What do you mean?

Moshe
I’ve spent so many years trying to forget. What if the memories are gone? I’m an old man…

Benjamin
Dad, I’ve seen you sit at my dinner table and tell stories from dessert until two in the morning.

Moshe
This isn’t the same. This isn’t easy, what you ask me to do. You don’t know from memories, you have too much still in front of you. You don’t just remember and then, phhtt, it’s down on the paper. You remember a person. They make you think of another person, and pretty soon you’ve remembered a whole town, an entire village. All the faces…it’s too much, it will drown me.

Benjamin
Have courage. You will be among friends. I only wish my kids could have been here to listen to you.

Moshe
You will miss having seder with them.

Benjamin
That is my sacrifice. But tomorrow will be worth it. The survivors will be my family for a day.

Moshe
This whole thing is crazy. I haven’t observed Passover since you were a boy.

Benjamin
I know, Dad. God speaks to us all in different ways, perhaps this speech is His way of speaking to you.

Moshe
Ah, you talk like a rabbi.

Benjamin
I am proud of you for doing this. Mom would have been too.

Moshe
More rabbi guilt.

Benjamin
Good night, Dad. Get to work.

Advertisements
    • Kae
    • February 11th, 2011

    This is a wonderful play, poignant, chilling, and ultimately hopeful that we can transcend whatever we face in life. I still remember what a nightmare Moshe and his wife experience at the end of Act I. Moshe’s encounter with the character Laura played in the second act is so joyful. Good work, Brian!

  1. Thank you Kae. I don’t think I told her at the time, but that role was definitely written with Laura in mind. I remember someone asking why I had Moshe’s daughter come back at that particular age, and in my mind I was thinking, “‘Cause that’s how old Laura is!”

    • Kae
    • February 12th, 2011

    That’s so special, for you to have written the part for her. It was a great opportunity for her. I think she tapped into some unearthly sense of joy, freedom, and understanding in that short scene. I loved it.

  2. Me too. Along with Arcadia of course, it was my favorite of the four shows I saw her in (I missed her in The Glass Menagerie with Joe Morgan, which I would have loved to have seen).

    • Kae
    • February 13th, 2011

    Do you keep in touch with Joe? He was wonderful as the gentleman caller.

  3. Not in a while. He probably got sick of me asking him to come out of semi-retirement and act again. He’s one of favorite local actors. Did you know he married Laurel, who was the Stage Manager for Arcadia? They live in Palenville, up near where we are.

    • Kae
    • February 13th, 2011

    Yes, we were at their wedding! Please give Joe and Laurel my best wishes next time you talk to him.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: