Dirty Laundry Theatre opens its door with the inaugural showing of BORDERS premiering at the Hudson Guild Theatre and running June 25, 26, and 29. the play is written by international playwright Nimrod Danishman. Acclaimed actors Eli M Schoenfeld and Adrian Rifat, appear in this love story for the online age directed by Michael R. Piazza.
“We start with Israel,” says Founding Artistic Director, Maera Daniel Hagage. “Airing Israel’s ‘dirty laundry’ allows us to create a mosaic based on the less familiar perspective of day-to-day Israeli life, allowing us to overcome cultural differences and prejudice. The Israeli stories, very much like “Borders”, are both personal and universal. We invite our audience to open their minds and hearts and experience a new narrative that might be, surprisingly, more familiar than they expect.”
Boaz and George meet on Grindr. They are attracted to one another instantly and want to meet in person, but something prevents them from doing so. One lives in Israel, the other- in Lebanon. Will history and its prejudices prevent this union?
Nimrod Danishman has crafted an intriguing and timely drama about love in the 21st century. Danishman shows us the two worlds in which we exist – fantasy and reality – each containing its own set of “borders” governing love and tolerance.
Israeli Playwright, Nimrod Danishman, discussed the play, the players and world affairs with us briefly.
Tell us about yourself.
Shalom 🙂 My name is Nimrod Danishman, and I am a theater director, playwright and teacher from Tel Aviv, Israel. I grew up in a kibbutz in the north of the country, to a single mother who came from an ultra-Orthodox home.
“Borders” is my first play. Since then I have written 2 more plays and another 2 in the development process, and I notice that so far the characters in all my plays are characters from the LGBT community. I was not going to be a gay playwright, but I try to write about things I can understand and imagine myself, and because I’m gay, so are my characters.
Tell us about this play … where do you get your inspirations? Is it just from life or do you have a “plan?”
I wrote the first scene of (what then was called) “The Wall” following a conversation I had with a guy from Lebanon on Grindr. I visited a friend who lives on a kibbutz by the border with Lebanon, and because the app shows men who are close to you, suddenly the physical border was breached through the virtual space. The first scene in the play is very similar to the original conversation we had.
I returned to the same scene at the end of my studies at the School of Performing Arts without a final project. I wanted to direct a play by my favorite Israeli playwright, Hanoch Levin, dealing with refugees, but I couldn’t get the rights for the play. When I looked for another play, I remembered that scene and decided to develop it for the play. In the process I tried to explore the life of gay men in Lebanon – not very successfully. Suddenly it was very difficult to communicate with people from Lebanon. When they heard that I was an Israeli, the talks suddenly stopped. Some claimed it might harm them in Lebanon. Some did not give reason. I understood that, of course. In the reality I grew up in, the person on the other side of the fence was a monster. But it was also disappointing, I wrote a play about the ability of people to connect even if they are defined as “enemies,” but in reality it didn’t work.
Apart from that conversation with the guy from Lebanon, another inspiration for the play was a relationship with my partner. It was a long- distant relationship, since he is Italian from Rome and I am in Israel. Despite the distance, we were able to meet many times, nevertheless, most of this relationship took place in the written space of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. When I wrote the play, I understood that it makes sense to us, but apparently many relationships exist like this, even when the couple lives in the same house. We live in an age where most of our communication is paved and arranged in an endless dialogue. It’s as threatening as it’s amazingly shown in the Black Mirror series, but I chose to tell a different story about this written dialogue.
In terms of that, once the idea is there, how do you write … what’s the creative process?
So part of the answer is already in answer to the previous question. I can add that the process itself is light years away from the romantic image of the playwright writing into the night. To create a model of work rather than a hobby, I created a routine for writing. I read about writers and playwrights that I admire and discovered that they organize their day very well, so I imitated them: I woke up early in the morning, ate well, wrote, went out for an afternoon walk and then went back to writing until evening. I wrote a lot. I say in conversations after the show in Israel that the final play has almost 4000 words. The file in which I kept all the dialogues I chose to delete from the play has 25,000 words. I had the privilege of doing it because at the time, a play I was supposed to direct fell through. Nowadays I pray for such an opportunity, to allow myself to just sit and write.
Who do you feel is your “audience?”
I think the Y generation I’m part of is my first target audience. It’s true that this is a love story for two men, but I think my Y-generation friends will be able to see the story behind sexual orientation and geographical location. The story of the dating app, of a relationship in correspondence, of falling in love with a guy who is in a place I can not reach, and the only place we can meet at is online.
In a way that is perhaps not surprising, we see that many adults come to the show in Israel. I think there is such a great thirst for LGBT characters in the Israeli theatre that they are not the same ole’ type you see in musicals.
I’m very happy about the connection with the Dirty Laundry Theatre. They create a cultural bridge in the United States to the culture of a strong local community, and through it opens to a geographical area that attracts a lot of attention. I am very excited that they chose my play as the theatre’s first play, and I hope that this cooperation will produce new projects.
This year I wrote two other LGBT plays: the first about the relationship between a high school teacher and the student, the second about a group of Tel Aviv gays that goes from the bachelor stage full of parties and drugs to the stage of institutionalization and the desire for children. In Israel, we still gay marriage are still illegal, same as adoption. I felt that I had to make another voice in the community’s struggle.
Tickets are $25 and available online at www.newyorktheaterfestival.com/borders/ or at the door. Performances take place at the Hudson Guild Theater, 441 W 26th St, NYC, between. 9th and 10th ave. Additional information can be found online at https://www.dirtylaundrytheatre.org/show/borders/”