By Josh Lake, Dean of Technology and Programs
This year we began a theater troupe in the Upper Division. A true collection of creative souls who like to sing, dance and act. We are a hodge-podge of characters ranging from 11 years old to 47 years old. We participated in the fall Shabbaton and we had a presence at the Perpetually Perplexed Purim Players shpiel this year at Rodef Shalom. We are organized and motivated by a fun-loving, quirky senior student. We are the DJDS Theater Club!
Last spring Aidan Pierce, a senior at Denver JDS, approached me and posed the question of having a real theater club in the Upper Division. What he did not know— what no one knew — is that acting was a childhood passion of mine. I acted in several plays and musicals in middle and high school. I was as excited to do this as he was! Now couple this enthusiasm with Chris Butler, our assistant athletic director, who also had a background in theater production. It was like this club had to happen this year. The best part is the entire club will return next school year, save our fearless leader Aidan, who will continue his creativity in college. So we have two faculty and a collection of students representing most of the grades in the Upper Division. What’s next you ask? Well, let’s take a step back first.
It all started with a game of Bus Stop. For those readers who do not have a natural thespian lean, bus stop is an improvisational theater game where participants find themselves in a chance encounter “bus stop.” The actors then need to adjust their character to the other two characters that have been established. This is both a great and a scary game. It is great because it forces actors out of their comfort zone and scary because it forces actors to trust each other. This all takes place in our club with a sixth grade girl, an eighth grade boy, and a high school freshman sitting on a bench, being given a second to get into character and match the character they are now in a scene with.
So what does Judaism have to do with the game of Bus Stop? Everything.
If we can get kids of different ages to take risks, get out of their comfort zone and to learn to work together as a team in the vein of theater, then why can’t these same kids go out in the world and behave the same? Bus Stop is a metaphor for how we as Jews can be on any bus stop with any group of people. We can be proud and confident AND be accepting and open to new opportunities and to different ways to express creativity with people we would not normally engage.