Creative: Strengthen Your Spirit
Art is the Opposite of War
“So much of wartime is talking about evil and who we hate. The arts can so much more easily show us what we believe in. Theatre specifically shows us the roots and threads that tie people together far more than the differences that tear us apart.”
Ed Stern, Producing Artistic Director for “Playhouse in the Park” in Cincinnati, Ohio
“Golda’s Balcony” is a one-woman show about Golda Meir’s life. William Gibson's play examines the life of Golda Meir and her journey from Milwaukee schoolteacher to Prime Minister of Israel. Her story encapsulates the trajectory of Israel after WWII. Much of the drama focuses on the Six-Day War in 1967. Tovah Feldshuh starred in the original production on Broadway. She was nominated for a Tony Award and put on 493 performances, making it the longest-running one-woman show on Broadway. I had a chance to see this play performed more than once off-Broadway. The script takes you right into the heart of this world leader as she wrestles with the absurdities of war.
Whenever I attend live theatre I like to look around the audience to see their reactions during the performance. Both times that I saw "Golda's Balcony", the audience said it all - leaning forward in their seats, captivated, smiling, laughing, crying. Afterward I listened to what those around me were saying. One woman came up to talk to the people sitting behind me. Her face was still wet with tears. I heard her say that she had attended theatre her entire life, living in NYC, and all over the world, and had never seen such a powerful performance. Her friends agreed. I heard similar comments both times I attended. I couldn’t stop smiling. Great theatre affects people that way. Why so?
Theatre allows people to feel connected in a way that no other medium can. Golda Meir’s story reverberated right through our ordinary lives. Our emotions were plucked like the strings on a harp. For example, at one point in the play, Golda made the comment that she didn’t want to be a woman stuffed in a kitchen making matzo balls all day - she wanted to do so much more - she wanted to make a homeland for her people. She then mused on how the world could have been a much better place if women had had the opportunity to use their collective wisdom in positions of leadership.
But, by far, Golda’s sentiments at the end of the play pulled feelings from the very depths of our hearts into one common voice. She spoke about war. She said that she could forgive the Arabs for killing Israeli boys. But she could never forgive them for making the Israeli’s kill Arab boys. Then she stood center stage and raised her arms saying “Shalom” to each side of the audience. I looked around the theatre at that moment. I could see white tissues in the dark, wiping tears from under the eyes of the men and women in the audience. Our common voice had been heard. Peace is what all of us want. Why do we allow war to overrule the strength of our collective desire?
There's something about sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers watching actors on a stage so close that you can see their body language, feel their emotional energy, and hear the cracks in their voices. It's tribal. It's akin to survival. Theatre is as old as the first story ever heard round the first campfire.
"Theatre specifically shows us the roots and threads that tie people together far more than the differences that tear us apart.”
Art is the opposite of war. Constructive vs destructive.