Crossing Jerusalem Actor Profile: Trudy Weiss

Trudy Weiss as VARDA KAUFMANN GOLDSTEIN

Welcome to an eight part interview series featuring the cast members of Crossing Jerusalem.  Check back daily for the next installment.

Introduce yourself and tell us about your character in Crossing Jerusalem.

My name is Trudy Weiss and I play Varda Kaufmann Goldstein in Crossing Jerusalem.  I am the matriarch in of the Kauffman family.   Varda has this whole world in her hands.  She’s been in Israel since the beginning, before the Six-Day War.  Her overview is quite comprehensive in comparison to her children or her second husband, the Russian Serge.  She’s of European parentage, so she has retained that specific ineffable sensibility.  And yes, Varda has an American accent because she was taught by Americans as a child.  Varda has become hard-bitten and cynical due to everything she has witnessed and all the tragedy and disappointment that has ensued. We are in the second Intifada, God help everyone!  The anticipated harmony has deteriorated into chaos,rage, mistrust, hatred, and a seeming inability to find a way to co-habit  at all.

One of the interesting parts of your character is she seems to be the keeper of secrets.  Can you elaborate more about this aspect of Varda?

I do think she was quite a passionate optomistic zealot when she was young.  Varda had absolute faith in all that had been hoped for and felt sure that together the Palestinians and the Jews could create  harmonious and respectful living conditions . This  has deteriorated into something completely unexpected.  Thus Varda is an absolute lioness about protecting her family, regardless if she’s “getting along” with them or not.  Varda will maintain the lineage at all costs.  Surely in this beautiful tender and explosive play, our dysfunctional family is a reflection of the dysfunctional country.  Israel , though still vibrant, alive, loud, wild , brilliant and determined, does not have the relatively peaceful balanced plans for unity that it had held sacred.  And yes, she has some of her own secrets….she’s been around a lot longer than her kids!

Rehearsal photo of Trudy Weiss as Varda Kaufmann Goldstein (foreground) & Chris Spyrides as Serge Goldstein (background) (Photo credit: Habie Schwarz)

Varda also comes across as intense.

Varda is intense.  She’s is like a whirling dervish as all activities converge. She’s also very outspoken and manipulative.  Part of that comes from her wanting to make sure everyone is behaving appropriately to ensure their survival.  Varda is an aging hippy and has transformed herself into a very effective and  successful business woman.Look at the Chicago 7.  She’s demanding and narcissistic.  There are positive virtues to that, the art of selfishness. Varda will keep her head above water through sheer bloody minded determinism.  Her saving grace is her abundant humour and perspective on the whole ensuing drama that has overwhelmed this tiny country. She is The Proctectress of the Jewish identity and that involves sacrifice.

How is working with Julia Pascal?

Julia is a fabulous, energetic massively intelligent woman . It’s been a great  advantage to have the writer working as director.That certainly expands our opportunities to develop as ,ultimately, after all our  exploration, she can weave our efforts into her intended tapestry.   It’s a gift.  Every day new layers are being revealed.  A good friend of mine has worked with Julia on many occassions and Julia had mentioned to my her that she was looking for a Varda.  My friend graciously suggested me. Lucky me! I’m very happy to be with Julia.  It’s a vibrant, lively, committed group of talented actors.It is a big emotional journey and we are all willingly taking it together.

Why should people see Crossing Jerusalem?

It’s a necessary even-handed perspective on an issue that has claimed the hearts, minds, and opinions of the entire world.  It’s a  balanced story in which we are able to clearly hear both opinions as reflected in the dense cornucopia of thought and emotion. It is of The Heart as it deals with the humanity of these people, not just the politics. It is the bottom line . We don’t get much of that in the newspapers.  Crossing Jerusalem is a powerful classic play because it’s timeless. This is an issue that we’ll be fretting and steaming about into eternity. Hopefully.

Crossing Jerusalem – Written and Directed by Julia Pascal

Synopsis:  Set during the 2002 intifada, and just before the invasion of Iraq, Crossing Jerusalem is a potent and dynamic exploration of the theatre of war. The play describes 24 hours in the life of an Israeli family who cross Jerusalem to eat in an Arab village. In the course of a single day Arab and Jewish histories burst into the present in the most politically tense city in the world.

Venue & Address: Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP
Telephone booking number: 020 7870 6876
Booking website: www.parktheatre.co.uk
Direct link to book tickets online click here

Opening and closing dates: Dates: Tues 4 August – Sat 29 August 2015 (Preview 4th and 5th August)
Times: 7.45pm Tues – Sat / Thu & Sat Matinees 3.15pm
Prices: £12.50 Previews / £18 Full / £15 Concessions /
£12.50 Tuesdays Residents with N.London postcode or Under 25s

Crossing Jerusalem Actor Profile: David Ricardo-Pearce

DAVID RICARDO PEARCEWelcome to an eight part interview series featuring the cast members of Crossing Jerusalem.  Check back daily for the next installment.

Introduce yourself and tell us about your character in Crossing Jerusalem.

My name is David Ricardo-Pearce and I play Gideon Kaufmann in Crossing Jerusalem.  He is a graphic designer and in the Israeli army.  Gideon is married to Yael and has a 4 year old daughter.  His wife wants a son but he doesn’t want any more children, or certainly not in the moment with the intifada and being in flux.  He is having serious doubts if he should stay in the Israeli Army or refuse.  Not only is he is to report for duty the following day, it’s also his wife’s 30th birthday.  The entire duration of the play takes place on his wife’s birthday.  All these concerns weigh on Gideon as the play starts.

Gideon has three unique relationships with the women of his life.  Can you elaborate for us?

Gideon’s mother was never around as a kid, so he never had a strong female influence in his life.  It’s a complicated relationship as he does love his mother.  Gideon and his sister are close, almost uncomfortably close at times.  They have a very strong bond but he worries about her the same way all brothers worried about their sisters.

He also has a strangle relationship with his wife in a way.  Yael says, “You’ve never spoken to me about my past in seven years.”  They get on well but he’s a closed book.  I think when we find them in the play they have been growing apart for a long time.  Yael just hasn’t been noticing it.  She doesn’t see him all that much because of the intifada, so much is forgiven in terms in behavior.  I think what we see in the play is a climax in a recent change in behavior, probably the last month or two.  His last tour was in December and the play takes place in March.  Something momentous must have happened when he was on duty that has slowly changed him and made him more distant from his wife.

Rehearsal photo of David Ricardo-Pearce as Gideon Kaufmann (foreground), Andy Lucas as Sammy (back left) & Trudy Weiss as Varda Kaufmann Goldstein (back right) (Photo credit: Habie Schwarz)

Have you ever tackled a heavy subject like this in a play before?

I directed a play recently that was about a relationship between a Jewish father and his son, set on September 11th so that dealt very much with conflict between religions.  The Israel Palestinian is more than that obviously.  That play in terms of that debate of who’s right, who deserves what, who has been treated fairly, it had a similar feel to it.  I did a play about the Irish Republic Army.  It looked at an IRA cell in New York.  There was a lot of debate about terrorism and freedom fighters, and the same age old debate about land.  I suppose working and researching plays like this, you get a wider sense of what people go through in a lot of the world.  We don’t directly deal with many issues like that here in this country.

How are rehearsals with Julia Pascal going?

It’s going great.  It’s been a quick three weeks and we’re at the end of week two.  It’s getting quicker and more intense.  It’s fun.  Julia is really good at letting her actors play, find things, not being too descriptive and being tied down.  She lets you find your journey on your own and guide you through it in her own gentle way.  It feels very open at the moment and hopefully when we open the play it can continue to be quite open and fun.  It’s been enjoyable.

Why should people come see Crossing Jerusalem at Park Theatre?

I think that theatre should be entertaining regardless of what we’re talking about or it’s genre like a musical, ballet, opera.  It needs to engage its audience.  I think the best theatre is one that tackles issues in our world that are universal.  The Israel Palestine conflict is a massive ongoing debate that the entire world is having.  One of the wonderful aspects of Julia’s play is that it’s very even handed.  No one saying that Israel or Palestine is right.  This is what’s happening in this country and these are the debates people are having.

There’s something about what a play can do that’s much harder for a newspaper or documentary can accomplish because it’s putting a certain spotlight on a specific time, person, or area.  Political theatre is crucial for the life of theatre.  If you think about it, that’s how theatre has always been written.  Shakespeare’s plays have always had a political response to what was going on. That’s why people should come to see this play in its purest essence.  Crossing Jerusalem is also very funny with highly dramatic, interesting, screwed up relationships which are all recognizable from real life.  It has a lot of great ingredient in it.

 

Crossing Jerusalem – Written and Directed by Julia Pascal

Synopsis:  Set during the 2002 intifada, and just before the invasion of Iraq, Crossing Jerusalem is a potent and dynamic exploration of the theatre of war. The play describes 24 hours in the life of an Israeli family who cross Jerusalem to eat in an Arab village. In the course of a single day Arab and Jewish histories burst into the present in the most politically tense city in the world.

Venue & Address: Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP
Telephone booking number: 020 7870 6876
Booking website: www.parktheatre.co.uk
Direct link to book tickets online click here

Opening and closing dates: Dates: Tues 4 August – Sat 29 August 2015 (Preview 4th and 5th August)
Times: 7.45pm Tues – Sat / Thu & Sat Matinees 3.15pm
Prices: £12.50 Previews / £18 Full / £15 Concessions /
£12.50 Tuesdays Residents with N.London postcode or Under 25s

 

Crossing Jerusalem Actor Profile: Chris Spyrides

Chris Spyrides as SERGE GOLDSTEIN

Chris Spyrides as SERGE GOLDSTEIN

Welcome to an eight part interview series featuring the cast members of Crossing Jerusalem.  Check back daily for the next installment.

Introduce yourself and tell us about your character in Crossing Jerusalem.

My name is Chris Spyrides and I play Sergei Goldstein in Crossing Jerusalem.  He’s a Russian Jew, who once served in the Red Army and moved to Israel about ten years prior to the action of the play. He has left a series of massive personal and political events behind him: the death of his soldier son in the Soviet–Afghan War, the subsequent break-up of his second marriage and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  When the audience meet Sergei, he has been married to Varda, the matriarch of the play, for eight years.  He has become a bit disillusioned with living in ‘The Promised Land’. After narrowly surviving a bomb attack where he witnessed the death of many from his Russian community, he has also seen his employment prospects suffer during the Intifada, to the point where he has now been reduced to assisting his wife’s property business, something that frustrates him deeply. Although having suffered a lot of tragedy, Sergei is actually a positive force in the family group, often playing peacemaker, although his usual philosophical outlook is now being tested, for sure.

Serge seems to have no issues traveling in Jerusalem during the play.  Why is that?

He does have issues with it but he puts those fears aside for a few reasons. Firstly, he has more of an issue being stuck in the office all day. He’d rather risk stones, gunfire and bombs than have to lick another stamp! He also believes in this family more than they seem to and he hopes that the birthday outing to Sammy’s restaurant will bring them all closer together and strengthen them as a unit. On top of this, it’s Yael’s birthday, the Algerian Jewish wife of Varda’s son Gideon.  As a fellow ‘outsider’ to this family, he feels a special affinity for her and knows that Varda’s poor opinion of Yael has to be compensated for. For him, these are all bigger issues.

Serge seems to be the one person that calms everyone.  Why is that?

He believes in this family deeply, even though they’re an argumentative bunch who are often tearing strips off each other.  Sergei’s positivity and strength are the glue that holds the family together.  He makes an effort to calm arguments or tense moments by any means necessary. Usually it’s as the classic fool, often allowing himself to be perceived as naïve, idiotic, or a joker, sacrificing his own status for the greater good.  Underneath it all, he has a moral depth and emotional intelligence that the family need.

Rehearsal photo of Chris Spyrides as Serge Goldstein (Photo credit: Habie Schwarz)

Have you ever worked with Julia Pascal?

This is my first time I’ve worked with Julia Pascal and rehearsals have been great.  She’s very clear in what she wants but also has a free way of working. She’s also willing to assimilate suggestions and as a former actor herself she has great belief in the actor’s craft. Julia welcomes the variety of skills that we bring to the mix and you can see how much the work excites her.

Why should people come see Crossing Jerusalem at Park Theatre?

It’s a beautiful, passionate, visceral and poetic play which is often funny and sometimes harrowing. It’s very even-handed about a very complex subject which doesn’t happen very often when it comes to the Israel/Palestine situation. We have a great international cast of actors and it’s been a joy to rehearse.  I look around the room and think we’re capable of making something magical.


Crossing Jerusalem – Written and Directed by Julia Pascal

Synopsis: Set during the 2002 intifada, and just before the invasion of Iraq, Crossing Jerusalem is a potent and dynamic exploration of the theatre of war. The play describes 24 hours in the life of an Israeli family who cross Jerusalem to eat in an Arab village. In the course of a single day Arab and Jewish histories burst into the present in the most politically tense city in the world.

Venue & Address: Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP
Telephone booking number: 020 7870 6876
Booking website: www.parktheatre.co.uk
Direct link to book tickets online click here

Opening and closing dates: Dates: Tues 4 August – Sat 29 August 2015 (Preview 4th and 5th August)
Times: 7.45pm Tues – Sat / Thu & Sat Matinees 3.15pm
Prices: £12.50 Previews / £18 Full / £15 Concessions /
£12.50 Tuesdays Residents with N.London postcode or Under 25s