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The Hebrew Lesson

Ouray, Esther
Year Grant Awarded 2012

Email > runningwoman5457@yahoo.com
State > MN Zip Code > 55407
Website > http://thehebrewlesson.wordpress.com/

The Hebrew Lesson is a 60-minute one-woman play written and performed by Esther Ouray, with live music by composers and musicians Tim O’Keefe, Maryam Yusefzadeh and Greg Herriges. The play is directed by Zaraawar Mistry. Its creation was made possible by a Naked Stages grant supporting the creation of new works. The Hebrew Lesson was performed only twice in Nov 2010. Eight performances of it over two weekends in March 2012 were independently produced at Dreamland Arts in St. Paul MN.


The Hebrew Lesson was inspired by this personal experience:
In 2007, Esther Ouray, a Minneapolis-based theater artist, traveled to Israel and Palestine on a delegation with Interfaith Peace Builders, an organization committed to justice and peace in the Middle East. Esther’s father had passed away a year earlier, and she decided to bring his ashes with her. Her desire was to spread her father’s ashes from the top of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, as a tribute to him. But as Esther traveled within Israel and the Palestinian Territories, she became witness to the complex historical, political and social injustices of life there. When she finally ascended to the top of the Mount of Olives, she was forced to reconsider her plan. This experience inspired The Hebrew Lesson.

Working with director and dramaturge Zaraawar Mistry, a piece of theater was crafted that combines personal narrative, folklore, and contemporary politics. Rooted in Jewish cultural music and imagery, The Hebrew Lesson asks its audience members to reflect upon their relationship to the charged politics of Israel and Palestine, and their individual connection to their ancestral homelands. The play is at once a personal story of a woman’s journey to her ancestral home, as well as a political call towards accepting one’s responsibility to embrace truth and to oppose the perpetuation of injustice.

The story is structured around an interactive, light hearted Hebrew lesson of six words. The lesson is interrupt