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Monday September 01, 2014
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The Children of Abraham

 

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Detroit's Mosaic Youth Theater - renowned internationally for fearless, innovative work based in improvisation, layered texts, and rousing musicianship - seemed the perfect vehicle for Rosenberg's vision. For months, twenty Detroit teens - some were deeply devout, others had given their faiths only perfunctory thought - came together to discuss their fears and the possibility of peace between their three religions. From these conversations, texts and scenes were created: monologues, songs, physical depictions of biblical stories, poetry, dance. Playwright Urist came on board to craft the raw material into a play that uses the story of Abraham and his sons Isaac and Ishmael as a springboard for so much more. Rick Sperling directed.

How to describe this? Today, two months after I saw its local premiere at the U-M's Residential College in mid-December, scenes and images still gleam like rubies. An American Jewish girl talks longingly about Israel as her homeland. A young Muslim man remembers a day in Beirut when the screaming of Israeli fighter jets shattered windows around him. A young Christian man talks about his faith and his family. A Muslim girl in a head scarf stands alone in a light, singing a song so intricate and exquisite it seems almost impossible. The throughline, that "peace begins with conversation," allows the players and the audience to feel the discomfort that such conversations might elicit. The Children of Abraham lay it on the table for all to see.

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