Cast, performance and rehearsal photos of Golden Land,
Golden Land Play Script and Thesis
Golden Land, my first full-length stage play, follows three Jewish sisters who immigrate to New York City in 1906 after a pogrom in Bialystok, their hometown in the Russian Empire. They work in garment factories to save money to bring the rest of their family over, and are entangled in conflicts both inside and outside their home as they journey toward becoming “American.” Through the MSU Roial Players, I co-directed my play with Dan Finegan and a cast of 22 actors. It was produced in the RCAH Theater at Michigan State University in April 2015; our full production can be viewed here. An article by Kelsey Block about the show can be viewed here. Our promo video was created by Ben DeHart.
I am inspired to create stage plays about historical and current events, in a way that makes them entertaining, compelling and meaningful to audiences. My research for Golden Land takes into account many complexities and changes in Jewish female identities, and has strong parallels to the experiences of immigrants today.
My senior thesis in the Arts and Humanities combined historical research with my original play script to explore the transforming identities of Jewish immigrant women in early 20th century America. Specifically, I investigated the ways in which traditional Jewish culture, ethnic violence and the immigrant experience shaped the identities of female garment workers, and empowered them as labor activists. As a central event, I focused on the “Uprising of the 20,000,” a garment workers’ strike in New York City during winter 1909-1910.
Photos of The Runaways and Letterpress.
Plays in Performance: The Runaways and Letterpress
I have had two other original plays performed here at Michigan State University. The Runaways, a one-act play about the U.S. government-run Indian Boarding Schools, was performed by the MSU Roial Players in March 2013; I co-directed it with Sarah Denick. Inspired by Louise Erdrich's poem "Indian Boarding School: The Runaways," it is set in 1912 at the Wahpeton Indian School in North Dakota. The story portrays the journey of two Ojibwe sisters who strive to maintain ties to their home and their culture, resisting the school's fight to assimilate them. The Runaways script won third place in the 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Advancing Inclusion through Research Award. A video of the performance can be viewed here.
Letterpress, a ten-minute piece inspired by Sophie Scholl and the White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany, was produced as part of the MSU Student Playwriting Series in April 2014. It was directed by Paige Conway, and featured Brittany Roulo and Andrew Buck. A video of the performance can be viewed here.
"Letterpress," published in the Spring 2014 RCAHive, later became a play performed in the MSU Student Playwriting Series.
Creative pieces for RCAHive student literary magazine
For three years, I wrote Features and Arts pieces for RCAHive, the student literary magazine in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities. Each issue centers on a theme such as “Discovery,” and I created pieces exploring the theme in original ways. My published stories include “Letterpress,” “The March,” and “Dear Hero Worshipper." My poems include “A Memory for Lena” and “Watchers: A Journey to Alberta,” which later won the 2014 Annie Balocating Prize for Poetry at MSU, and was a part of Voicing Poetry, a collaboration between the RCAH Center for Poetry at MSU and the MSU Composition Studio. Videos of the reading, and musical performance by Charles Cooper and Annika Pell, can be viewed online. Here you can view "Watchers" as originally published in RCAHive. As an RCAHive staff member, I helped determine this year’s themes and plans in editorial meetings.
My photo artwork for "An Equal and Opposite Reaction," adapted from a photograph by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.
English Department Student Creative Writing Awards
In the 2015 English Department Student Creative Writing Awards, I won second place in screenwriting/playwriting for my one-act play script "An Equal and Opposite Reaction." My script explores the element of retaliation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by following the story of a young Arab-Israeli soldier in the Caracal combat battalion. It incorporates chorus members who interrupt the action to quote poems, news articles, songs and other documents from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.
I also won an honorable mention in flash nonfiction for my short piece "Prosthesis," which explores concepts of physical ability through my mother's experiences as an amputee.
Members of Roial Writers.
Roial Writers at Michigan State University
I spent two years as leader of Roial Writers, the writing branch of Roial Players, a student theatre group at Michigan State University. As leader, I brought creative writing activities and prompts to meetings, and facilitated workshops of student-written pieces, where we provided comments for revision in order to develop and polish new work. We strove to create an open and trusting environment where members felt comfortable contributing their opinions. Roial Writers also helps with the editing process of student-written plays that are performed by the organization. I worked closely with a social work student to help her develop and edit Blinded, an original play raising awareness of domestic violence, produced in April 2014. Here you can view a set of workshopping guidelines I compiled for the group.