When I visited Tel Aviv in December 2016 I was struck by the beauty of the city, the friendliness and diversity of the people, and amazing art institutions and offerings in the life of this cultural center. I was also very aware of the history of the city, past and present, as Israeli soldiers walked among us along city streets, young people who were doing their duty for Israel. It was natural to compare my American experience with what I was experiencing there. Many thing about the city felt familiar, yet there was the ongoing understanding that we were in a conflict area and that the young soldiers walking by were not volunteers or recruited, but the latest in what was likely a long line of family members conscripted to serve their country.
I saw the original production of ON THE GRILL at the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv. The Cameri feels like the Lincoln Center of Israel with multiple theatres in an impressive complex. Large groups of audience members flood the main lobby headed in different directions to see shows. I was impressed with the overwhelming support and sheet numbers of people there to see theatre – people of all ages and walks of life filing into theatres to experience something together.
I found that my experience as an American in Israel was encapsulated in ON THE GRILL. So much of the world of the play seemed familiar – a backyard barbeque on Independence Day, little squabbles, loving families, songs played on guitar to sing along to, and friends stopping by. Yet there was the other reality of an Israeli family that I got to experience. The reality of multiple generations who had served in combat, a military zone within a relatively short distance from their home, fighter jets breaking the sound barrier overhead, political disagreements having immediate impact on everyone’s lives, and the effects of war lingering long after a soldier’s service is done. And I got to experience this story sitting among people who were living it. I wanted our community here in Cleveland to have this experience. And so, Dobama Theatre is honored to produce the American Premiere of this fantastic play.
We hope you enjoy ON THE GRILL. Dobama Theatre is grateful to the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland for their generous support of this special summer event. Visit dobama.org to read about our exciting, newly announced 18/19 season or to learn more about Dobama Theatre – Cleveland’s Professional Off-Broadway Theatre.