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

 

Crossing Jerusalem Actor Profile: Louisa Clein

Louisa Clein as LIORA (LEE) KAUFMANN

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 Louisa Clein and I’m playing Liora “Lee” Kaufmann in Crossing Jerusalem.   Lee is the daughter of Varda, the sister of Gideon.   She’s a single 35 year old woman that works with Jewish and Arab kids, and is also in the medic unit of the Israeli Army.  She is an idealistic character.  Lee does believe that working with Jewish and Arab kids might make a different.  She is also very lonely and confused.  Her relationship with her brother is complicated and is jealous of him.  She also has a terrible relationship with her mother that is a battle throughout the play, which is a constant source of pain, anger, sadness, jealously for Lee.

Is there a part of Lee in you?  Can you relate to your character?

There’s a part of her that resonates with me.  She’s a strong independent woman, which I hope to think that I am.  She’s someone that has an inherent sense of morality, of belief, that something has to change, and that there’s a possibility of peace in Israel.  She’s a character that fundamentally believes in a two state solution.  She also exploits her sexuality and uses it to feel alive.  Lee realizes the power of her body and uses sex to get what she wants.  It’s a fun part of the character to play with.

Lee comes across as an instigator or truth-seeker.  Can you tell us more about that side of your character? 

Rehearsal photo of David Ricardo-Pearce (left) as Gideon Kaufmann and Louisa Clein (right) as Liora “Lee” Kaufmann (Photo credit: Habie Schwarz)

Yeah, Lee is a truth seeker.  The female agenda of this play is holding onto family.  Lee is trying to repair some sort of relationship with her mother and to hold onto her relationship with her brother.  Lee just wants life to be how it was when they were younger, searching for happier times.  She blames her mother for a lot of things.  She misses her father.  She has created a world with Gideon that is fantastical and exclusive.  Lee, in a way, is still growing up.  She now realizes she’s an independent woman.  There’s this juxtaposition of her sexuality and her promiscuity.  By the end of the play she has broken that tie with her mother, and no longer needs approval, giving her a sense of freedom.

Can you give us some insight on how rehearsals are going?

I’m loving it.  It’s wonderfully exciting and a great company.  The subject matter is fantastic too. It’s always a vibrant discussion that’s exciting and with lots of laughter.  We’re having fun.  I think the more serious the subject matter, the more joyous the rehearsals have to be, because there needs to be laughter in the room.

Why should people come to see Crossing Jerusalem?

It’s a play that has a lot to say about Israel without putting its foot down on either side.  I think it’s a very honest and true depiction of what’s happening in Israel.  Crossing Jerusalem was written a long time ago, but it’s still relevant and perfect for what’s happening now in the Middle East.  When you listen to one side of the argument you go ‘yeah’.  And you listen to the other side and go ‘yeah’ as well.  That’s so much of the problem, each argument is equally weighted.  In terms of solutions, who knows what they are.  This is just one tiny family’s drama set in within this enormous eternal problem.

 

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: Adi Lerer

Adi Lerer as YAEL KAUFMANN

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 Adi Lerer and I play Yael Kaufmann in Crossing Jerusalem.  She is turning 30 and it’s a big day for her.  She’s going to have a birthday meal together with her family.  Yael is the wife of Gideon and she wants to have another baby.  They already have a 4 year old girl and now her real wish is to have a son. Gideon doesn’t want to have another baby, this rejection and him avoiding confronting this issue aggravates their relationship.  She can feel that there is something is going on in Gideon’s life that he’s not telling her.  The only way to save their marriage is for him and for her to open up-to grow up.

Besides the cultural significance of having a son, are there other external forces that make Yael’s desire to have another child so strong?

Yael is someone who is very intelligent and passionate.  She wants to expand her family. Especially during this moment in life, during the 2002 intifada, when you experience conflict, a situation of war, you feel that time is very precious.  This idea can go both ways.  Why should we have children during this conflict?  Or you feel the opposite.  You want to breed and have more of a lineage.  Make life because there’s so much death.  She wants to create a beautiful thing to bring into the world instead of destroy.  Her voice is changing.  Her whole being is rediscovering her strength, her autonomy in the world.  She can voice what she wants.  It’s up to her.  She has the strength to do that.

Rehearsal photo of Adi Lerer (foreground) as Yael Kaufmann & David Ricardo-Pearce (background) as Gideon Kaufmann (Photo credit: Habie Schwarz)

How does being an Israeli make this role different from other productions you’ve worked on?

Being Israeli helps me because I can connect to it all very easily.  On the other hand, it can hinder you as well because it can be a bit adrenalizing.  I can feel it a bit too much.  It’s really fascinating working with people that aren’t Israeli on a play that talks about your home country. It puts everything in a different perspective; it gives the whole situation a fresh look so it’s a really interesting journey for me.

You’ve worked with Julia Pascal before?

This is my 4th production with Julia.  My first one was in 2001 with Woman in the Moon at the Arcola.  We’ve done a few others like The Dybbuk performed in New York.  It’s a pleasure to work with Julia, we understand how the other works.  I work quite physically, devising theatre, and incorporating text.  That’s how Julia works as well and I connect with that.  It’s exciting to work on a linear text based production with her.  It really feels like home working with Julia.

Why should people see Crossing Jerusalem at Park Theatre?

It’s a very honest story.  You can look at it on many levels.  It’s a story about a family and their cracks, their longings, wishes and fears, all being heightened in a situation of conflict. It makes you behave very different and to tackle the Israeli conflict will always be difficult and challenging.  What’s really refreshing about this production is that it’s very honest about what people do to each other and how they feel.  It’s very visceral and true to the core of how we treat each other.

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