"Cherry Docs" program note
I wake up Sunday morning, a week and a half before opening night. We’re back in rehearsal tonight, after several days off. “I should write my director’s note this morning”, I think to myself as I stumble towards breakfast. I pull up last night’s episode of NBC Nightly News on my phone while I eat my Cheerios.
“One killed, three injured in shooting in California synagogue”
I think back to my previous JTB production, Church & State, about a school shooting, and how we couldn’t even get through five performances without a school shooting making national news. I think about Charlottesville and Squirrel Hill. I wonder whether a play like Cherry Docs will even help, or if it will just poke at whatever individual or collective trauma you in the audience have brought in with you. I wonder what I, a person who isn’t Jewish, who isn’t the target of any of this, can say to you in this note.
It breaks my heart that the issues in this 20-year-old play feel more relevant today than when it was written. I can’t wait until this play becomes a “period piece” and requires research to understand it.
I love theatre because it can show us stories about kinds of characters we don’t normally interact with. Characters we may not think much about or may have assumptions about. Mike’s hate and Danny’s tolerance are both, in different ways, based on assumptions. Taken for granted. As they are forced to get to know each other, those assumptions are tested, and we get to see what’s underneath that hate, what’s underneath that tolerance. We’re left asking whether the change in one character is worth the cost to the other.
I know this play won’t “solve” hate (I know that police and prisons won’t solve it either). I know that things can feel bleak, with hate and anti-Semitism on the rise, emboldened by certain loud voices in our society. I know that it’s not enough to be “non-racist”, we need to strive to be “anti-racist” (and I know I’m not doing enough on that point).
Can a play like Cherry Docs help?
That I don’t know.
Let’s find out together.
Thanks for being here.