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October 13, 2011 - Image 51

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-10-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Robert Grossman as victimized writer/

- survivor Solomon Galkin, B.J. Love

as Bernie Madoff and Sandra Birch as
Madoff's secretary in Imagining gadoff

Inside The Mind Of

Bernie Madoff

JET production imagines the emotional architecture
of an infamous Jew.

"This is Madoff's story imagined from
the inside, not the outside, and I have con-
fidence in the trust I have placed in what
is valid about that."
s it possible to understand the think-
Imagining Madoff, directed for JET by
ing of Bernard Madoff as he scammed
Yolanda Fleischer, features B.J. Love in
individuals and charitable founda-
the title role, Robert Grossman as the
tions out of millions of dollars?
victimized writer/sur-
Is it possible to
vivor Solomon Galkin
understand the thinking
and Sandra Birch as
of the sophisticated and
Madoff's secretary.
otherwise successful
"This is a play for
people who fell vic-
a thinking audience
tim to his schemes so
says Fleischer, who
transparent with a bit of
saw a production in
scrutiny?
Washington, D.C., and
Playwright Deborah
will be doing some dif-
Margolin took on
ferent staging because
those challenges and
of the JET venue itself
invites theater audi-
and her own approach
ences to follow along
to the script.
with her in Imagining
"The play is complicat-
Madoff, which runs Oct.
ed
because it moves back
19-Nov. 13 at the Jewish Playwright/performance artist
and
forth in time and
Ensemble Theatre in
Deborah Margolin
place
as all three charac-
West Bloomfield.
ters
stay
in view and are
"The plot of the
spaced
among
a
cell,
study
and office.
Madoff play is not conflict resolution in
"I
see
the
play
as
two
brothers
going
the traditional sense," says Margolin, 58,
through
a
betrayal,
and
I
spoke
with
the
in a phone interview from her New Jersey
Washington
audience
about
their
views.
home.
The content, with talk of religion as well as
"Rather, conflict and resolution exist
humor, generated a lot of discussion:"
within the emotional architecture of this
The playwright explains that the theme
particular man as well as in the emotional
of
faith remains at the center of the three-
architecture of the other two characters
character
play.
who share the stage.

Suzanne Chessler
Contributing Writer

I

"I wanted to investigate both the great
beauty and the great danger of absolute
faith, either in God or men',' explains
Margolin, also a performance artist and
associate professor of theater studies at Yale
University.
"I wanted to investigate our hard-wired
desire to find places of great faith and relax
into them before experiencing the cruelty
that can happen as a result of that faith. The
investigation becomes simultaneously psy-
chological, spiritual and moral."
Margolin, soon introducing a solo perfor-
mance piece about the relationship between
Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, started
thinking about Madoff's inner life when
asked to write Madoff monologues for a
production developed by a friend.
"I knew no more or less about Madoff
than any ordinary citizen',' says Margolin,
who approached the writing with Judaic
research suggested by her rabbi. "I knew
about his Ponzi scheme and Madoff's hav-
ing worked the Jewish community, but I
hadn't done any research about all that and
decided I wasn't going to do any.
"When my friend's production went
down, it whetted my appetite for further
investigation of the person Madoff was and
the moral, ethical, financial and spiritual
times that gave rise to his crimes.
"I added the second male character and
a secretary, who is meant to represent the
kind of lives mowed down collaterally by
what Madoff did."

Originally, the second character was an
altered version of writer and Holocaust
survivor Elie Wiesel, one of Madoff's well-
known victims. That character was taken
out of the script after Wiesel expressed his
opposition to being spotlighted.
"Most of my work is from the inside
out',' says Margolin, who has developed
nine solo pieces performed in the United
States and Europe in addition to her plays.
"For me, theater is very personal and
autobiographical in many different senses.
My play Three Seconds in the Key looks
at the life of a mother and son based on
experiences I had with my own son in
dealing with illness."
Margolin, an English graduate of New
York University, began her writing career
with magazines. She began getting recog-
nition in the 1980s as a founding mem-
ber of New York's Split Britches Theater
Company, a feminist political theater
troupe she helped advance as a touring
and teaching organization.
Margolin became an artist-in-residence
at Hampshire College and the University
of Hawaii and moved into more formal
teaching positions at New York University
and the University of Pennsylvania before
joining Yale.
"I love writing for theater because it
comes from the body and returns to the
body,' says Margolin, married to a com-
puter security analyst and the mother of
two. "There's something about a person
standing on stage and creating the original
impulse for the words."
Margolin, who considers her entire life
infused with Jewish influences — in May
2007 she traveled on a Fulbright Senior
Specialist grant to University of Tel Aviv to
present her play Critical Mass, in a Hebrew
translation — is on sabbatical to work on a
book, Index to Idioms, which merges mem-
oir and fiction. The book presents glimpses
into a mother's life and a theater artist's life
with each chapter titled by an idiom that
later takes on a new meaning.
"It gives me great pleasure when my
solo work is done by other people she
says. "It expunges the notion that some-
thing that is deeply personal is associated
only with me and my life.
"I also feel that one of the healthiest
things we can do is look inside ourselves
with what may have gone wrong inside
someone else, and that's why Imagining
Madoff is an internal investigation." I I

JET presents Imagining Madoff
Oct.19-Nov.13 at the Aaron DeRoy
Theatre in the Jewish Community
Center in West Bloomfield.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct.19, and Thursdays;
5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and
6:30 p.m. Sundays; and 2 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov.11. $36-$43, with
discounts for seniors and students.
(248) 788-2900; jettheatre.org .

October 13 2011

47

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