Story: Rich Man Insults Unwanted Guest

Rich Man in Bar Kamtza story

Once upon a time there was a rich man (played by my daughter, see above photo). He was throwing a party. He told his servant to invite one particular guest. His servant messed up and invited the wrong guy. Ooops. Major oopsie doopsie. The rich man was super mad. In the end, a temple was destroyed, and the Jewish people scattered. Yes, to those who know, this is the Bar Kamtza story. Learn more here:

Or use the Wikipedia version:

And if you want a really long detailed discussion of the whole story (this is from the yeshiva where my son is, Yeshivat Har Etzion):

Rich Man Insults Unwanted Guest – Bar Kamtza Story in Photos

My daughter played the rich man. Here is the story (or some of it) in photos:
Invitation: "You are invited to Mr. Ashir's Birthday Bash! If your name is Bar-Kamtza, don't come."
The invitation says: You are invited to Mr. Ashir's Birthday Bash! If your name is Bar Kamtza, don't come.
TIME: Sunset – Sunrise
PLACE: Somewhere

servant instructions to invite Kamtza
Mr. Ashir the rich man instructs his servant to invite Kamtza to his party. Servant messes up (note the similar names between the friend and the enemy), and Bar Kamtza shows up the party instead.

Mr. Ashir screams at the top of his lungs at Bar Kamtza.
Mr. Ashir screams at the top of his lungs at Bar Kamtza. Now that is one unwanted guest!

Bar Kamtza takes his revenge by putting blemishes on these cows. Everyone including the Roman emperor gets upset. Disaster happens. Temple is destroyed. There are lots of morals of the story (you can look up those up if you are really interested).

Notes on Bar Kamtza Story

1) We never find out anything about Kamtza. He does not seem to be a part of the story. Just has a great name (probably a fake one, like Ploney Almoney).
2) What in the world did Bar Kamtza do that made Mr. Ashir dislike him so much?

Your Turn, Please

If the wrong person showed up at your party, what would you do? How would you treat him or her, especially if it were someone you didn’t really like? What if you were a guest, and a host starting yelling at an uninvited guest? What if you were hurt by someone – what do you do with the hurt?

Shakespeare at Rutgers Gardens

Shakespeare in Rutgers Gardens - character scene 1
Last week we had the great pleasure of seeing Midsummer Night’s Dream (yes, the play by Shakespeare) in Rutgers Gardens. The play was low budget with wonderful acting, simple modern summer clothes for costumes, and a Starbucks cup was a prop. I am not sure which character was which, but the above female whom I think played a male was the first actor on the stage. The first scene was outside the log cabin. We the audience had to move around with the actors from scene to scene within Rutgers Gardens. It seemed OK at first, but by our tenth time moving, it was a little bit too much up and down. I went with my daughter who had never seen Shakespeare before. I think she might enjoy the kind where you sit in one spot, and the actors wear costumes. When I grew up in a Boston suburb, we used to watch Shakespeare plays by the Charles River (I remember The Tempest, for example). And when my husband lived in Manhattan, he had the opportunity to see Shakespeare in the park.

Duke and Lysander
This is from the first scene – I am fairly sure the woman on the right is the Duke. The guy in the back is Lysander (the other main male lead was Demetrius – I get the two confused. One was in love with Hermia, and the other was loved by her). My daughter was even more confused – she had no idea what was going on at all. But she was happy to see one of her theater friends there. She said everyone was laughing at certain parts, and she did not know why. We figured some of the audience knew the play well (one of my friends did), and others like us were fairly clueless.

Nick Bottom
This actor was Nick Bottom. I enjoyed his antics. I think he was supposed to be putting on a play within a play. We never got to see the end of this production because it started to thunder and lightning at the end. But we did see a lot.

Hermia and Helena
The actress on the left is Hermia (note the Starbucks cup). The one in the blue who is on her knees is Helena. And in the back is much of the audience!

Queen of the Fairies
Here is the Queen of the Fairies (Titania).

Puck with King of the Fairies
On the left is the fairy Puck (he causes a lot of trouble, putting people to sleep and having them fall in love with the wrong people). On the right is the King of the Fairies. I am pretty sure that is a woman dressed like a man.

Here is Puck, who causes (or seems to) a lot of the mix ups and inconveniences. Spraying fairy dust is a dangerous art form.

Nick Bottom donkey
I believe Puck is one who turns Nick Bottom (above) into a donkey. That’s a pretty good donkey, isn’t it?

Hermia and Oberon
This is the finally scene we were able to see. After this, it started to rain. Soon came thunder and lightning. Hermia (the one with a Starbucks cup who is in love with Lysander and loved by Demetrius) is on the left; and Oberon, King of the Fairies, is on the right. I had to use my flash on my camera because it was getting dark.

You can learn more about Shakespeare at Rutgers Gardens on the Rutgers Gardens website. The theatrical group is called re-Think Theatrical – I hope they do more.

Have you ever seen Shakespeare performed outside? Which play?

The Reluctant Videographer: Miss Hannigan

Miss Hannigan in Annie, Jr.
Last week my daughter performed in a show: Annie, Jr. at the Highland Park High School in Highland Park, New Jersey. She had the role of Miss Hannigan who runs an orphanage filled with girls. Does she like her job? No. I have to say I never cared much for the story of Annie: too sappy. But as I now see it from the point of view of Miss Hannigan, I enjoy it much more. She clearly is totally in the wrong, wrong role in life. Of course, just because she’s miserable, why should she have to be so nasty to everyone else as well? She is pretty darn funny – she probably should have been a comedian.

A favorite line:

Some women are drippin’ with diamonds / Some women are drippin’ with pearls / Lucky me, lucky me, look at what I’m drippin’ with / Little girls!

The day of the show I figured out how to use the movie mode on my camera. Maybe by the next show I will use a tripod, but I did manage to get six videos online. With my middle son’s help, I put them on YouTube in a playlist: Annie, Jr. – HPYTC 5/14/15.

Here is Miss Hannigan singing ‘Little Girls’:

A scene of Miss Hannigan yelling at the orphans:

You can see the other four on the play list.

I had hoped to do more watercolors, but the show got in the way. The holiday of Shavuot is coming this weekend: best wishes to all that celebrate. One week later is the Israel Day Parade in New York City. After that, a special wedding of someone who I’ve known since she was one. It’s nice to have many celebrations, but I like time to do creative work, too.

• • • 

What do you think of the Miss Hannigan character? Does she have your sympathy at all? Or perhaps she bothers you a lot? Regarding video, have you done any videotaping? How have you gotten better at this task? Do you have a YouTube channel?

Oh, and the Reluctant Videographer is me.

Snow White and the Old Hag

feeding Snow White the bad apple
My daughter’s theatre camp, Middlesex County College Theater Camp, put on Snow White and the Seventy Dwarves last week. My daughter had the great privilege of being picked for the character role of the old hag, the old woman who is really the wicked witch and tries to kill Snow White with a poisoned apple.

smiling hag in snow white
Here she is smiling at the end of the first show – I confess, my focus of watching the show was – when does the old hag enter? When does she do her evil cackles? I had a grand time watching her. As a child, I loved acting as well. I love that my daughter has this grand opportunity through camp.

woodsman snow white
This was a dramatic scene – here the Woodsman is about to kill Snow White, but of course, he does not. He brings the evil queen the heart of a pig. Do you think this will fool the wicked queen?

wicked queen
Trick this wicked queen into believing the heart of a pig is the heart of Snow White? She is not tricked. She sets out to kill Snow White as an old hag.

snow white and the prince
In this scene Snow White greets the prince. I’m not really sure what those two guys on the right are doing.

hag with evil grimace
I took lots of photos of my dear daughter the old hag – I was so thrilled by her portrayal of the character. It was a great show, and one we will remember for many years to come.

For more of My World Tuesday:
Our World Tuesday
See also Ruby Tuesday Two.

Upcoming Shows at Middlesex County College

This coming Friday, July 27, the show will be Rumpelstiltskin, and next Friday, August 3, the show will be Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. There are two shows each Friday: one at 9:30 am and one at 11 am. Tickets are only $3.

Summer Stock: Willy Wonka

charlie, grandparents, mother in Willy Wonka
Last week was the final performance of my daughter’s summer at Middlesex County College Theater Camp. The children performed Willie Wonka, based on the first movie, the one with Gene Wilder and many great songs like Oompa, Loompa, Doopa De Do. The scene above shows Charlie, who is poor and wants to win a Golden Ticket to visit Mr. Wonka’s factory, his mother and his four grandparents (in the bed).

When you have read the book, sometimes movie or play versions can be a little irritating. In this play, Charlie throws down the chocolate bar when he doesn’t find a Golden Ticket in it. In the book, he savored every morsel of a chocolate bar; he would never throw one down. I tried to explain that to my daughter, and since we own the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, she was able to read that scene for herself.

grandparents of Charlie
You can see all of Charlie’s grandparents wearing white nightgowns. In one scene when all the grandparents are in the factory, they and Charlie float upward. This was accomplished by turning off the lights, and teenagers wearing dark colors came in and held each grandparent up. Since the grandparents and Charlie were wearing white, they glowed, and they really looked like they were floating. Clever!

psychiatrist with patient
In this scene, a patient sits on the couch and tells of her dream of finding a golden ticket while her psychoanalyst listens.

I want a golden ticket - where is the ticket
One minute later the analyst is demanding to know where the ticket is. She chases her patient off the stage demanding.

Veruca and sister
My daughter played one of Veruca Salt’s sisters. Here they are, looking rich and snobby on the stage.

singers Veruca Salt and sister
One minute later they break into song.

Willy Wonka
When Willy Wonka finally appears on stage, at first, you think he is a decrepit man who can barely walk. He then jumps into a jig and produces a contract.

Charlie signs Wonka's contract
Charlie is the first to sign; after all, he is poor and has nothing to lose.

Veruca Salt

Veruca Salt wants a hen that lays a golden egg. Her father tries to bargain with Mr. Wonka.

Review with Sea Witch

Little Mermaid and Ursula the 14-headed Sea Witch
Little Mermaid and Ursula the 14-headed Sea Witch

Last week my daughter (see green arrow) was one of the 14 heads of Ursula the sea witch in the Middlesex Theater Camp production of the Little Mermaid. The main mermaid was played by a teen who went to school with my middle son, so we “sort of” knew her (at least my daughter and middle son know her). Tomorrow is the final production of my daughter’s summer; they are putting on Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. My daughter is one of Veruca Salt’s sisters. She needs to act snotty and rich and put on a British accent. Veruca is played by our friend’s daughter, so that’s exciting, too.

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

Beanstalk Play and Market Girl

mother looks for Jack and Jill in the Jack and the Beanstalk
With the temperature and humidity high in New Jersey, is it any wonder that I am posting an indoor activity for Summer Stock? In the first scene of Jack and the Beanstalk at Middlesex County College Theater Camp, the mother looks for Jack and Jill.

market girl
My daughter is playing a market girl. She did well in the tryouts, so she may get a bigger role in an upcoming play. As her mom, I try not get my hopes or her hopes up too high.

My favorite character was the giant. My daughter said one of the teen counselors played the giant, who is tall in real life, too.

Creative Dramatics

mask in New York City for Phantom Never Dies
mask on Broadway in New York City for Phantom Never Dies

Two weeks ago I started a little dramatics group for my daughter and her friends. Some background on this theater group: my daughter had been asking me about drama classes. All the drama classes in our area are a distance away, and I knew that even if I could get her there, we would have problems with Saturday performances. Since I had taught drama way back when (in the early 1980’s!) and had taken one class in creative dramatics in college, I thought: I can do this! My daughter asked all her friends, most were interested, but only a few could actually come.

We are working on scenes from Ramona and Beezus by Beverly Clearly. If you have read any of the Ramona books, feel free to share your favorite chapters or scenes in the comments.

Here are a few drama exercises:

  • Stop! Game – two players create a scene without talking. After three minutes, third player yells freeze! Both players freeze. Third player taps on the shoulder of one of the two, and that one must leave the scene. The third player then creates a new scene with the other player.
  • Common Difficulty Activity – without speaking, act out a common, frustrating activity, such as putting on boots that are too tight, pulling up a stuck zipper, or combing knotty hair.
  • Gibberish – sell something to the audience using gibberish (nonsense talk).
  • Pleasant mother routine – ask the kids, how can you tell if your mother is in a good mood? One player is the mother in a good mood, and the other is a child asking permission to go outside and play.
  • Worried parent – how does a parent look worried? Act this out.

I hope these posts about drama (I set up a whole new category called drama on this blog) and theater exercises can be helpful to parents or teachers who want to try some acting with their kids. These exercises can be excellent therapy for kids; what a release to be able to talk about (or act out) feelings and relationships after a whole day of book learning.

When I was in college, we used Viola Spolin’s book Improvisation for the Theater. My old copy is still guiding me as I set up this class for my daughter and friends.