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It is our great pleasure to introduce to you the four young actors who will be starring in SpeakEasy Stage Company’s New England Premiere production of BAD JEWS, running Oct. 24 – Nov. 29.
The play, which The New York Times called “the best comedy of the season” focuses on the battle between two cousins, Liam and Daphna, for ownership of a coveted family heirloom. Also in the fray are Liam’s brother Jonah and Liam’s girlfriend Melody.
Here is a quick interview with actress Alison McCartan, who plays the fiery Daphna, a young woman known as much for her thick, intense, frizzy, brown hair as for her “holier-than-thou” “in-your-face” attitude.
How would you describe Daphna Feygenbaum, the character you play in BAD JEWS?
Daphna is… a lot. She’s very energetic, extremely passionate, and a little bit abrasive (or, according to her cousin Liam, a lotta bit abrasive.) She’s super smart, and gets completely invested in the things that are important to her. She’ll do whatever it takes to stand up for what she believes in, which is both her finest quality and her biggest fault.
What parallels can you draw between you and Daphna?
Her energy and her passion come very easily to me. I’m a very devoted person and feel things very deeply, which is true of Daphna, too. I’d like to think I have a little more tact than Daphna, though.
What is your favorite quote from the play (from any character) and why?
In regard to her family practicing Judaism, Daphna says, “And this thing that people in our family were doing in 1900 and in 1800 and in 1500 and in 200 and in 500 BCE made it all the way here to us. That alone has got to at least give you pause.” Not only is this basically Daphna’s mission statement, it also is an idea that really resonates with me personally. I’m definitely a spiritual person and I have a very strong relationship with my family, so when I get to thinking about these big ideas like faith, culture, identity, and legacy, I’d say my values line-up pretty closely with Daphna’s. So much of who I am today is a result of beliefs and traditions that were passed down to me through several generations; and now that I am a young adult, I often think about which beliefs and traditions I’d like to pass along.
What has been your biggest challenge when approaching this piece?
I personally am not Jewish, so I have been trying to do as much research as possible to make sure that I’m giving an informed performance. I did a lot of reading and also spoke with some Jewish friends before going into the rehearsal room. In addition, our awesome director Rebecca Bradshaw and our assistant director Leah Carnow have been tremendously helpful during the rehearsal process.
As opening night approaches, what are you most excited about?
I’m really excited to hear how people respond to the play. There are so many “sides” you can take over the course of the show, and so many opinions that audience members will have on various subjects. The play really gets you thinking, and I don’t think there’s necessarily a right or wrong way to feel about the piece. It’s really exciting to be working on a play that I know audience members will still be thinking and talking about after they leave the theatre.