You Will Not Play Wagner
A New Virtual Play
JArts Theatreworks Group Presents: You Will Not Play Wagner
In Memory of Playwright Victor Gordon
Is it acceptable to play the music of a known anti-Semite?
Richard Wagner’s music has been informally banned in Israel on the grounds that the German composer was promoted during the Nazi era as Hitler’s favorite composer.
You Will Not Play Wagner takes place in New York City and Tel Aviv as the characters Zoom across the COVID-19 plagued world. Ya’akov, a young Israeli upstart, provokes an uproar when he chooses to perform Wagner in the finals of an international competition for conductors. He comes into conflict with Esther, a Holocaust survivor and competition patron who has her own tragic connection with Wagner’s music, and Morris, the competition’s organizer.
Their arguments push the competition to the brink. Should Ya’akov conduct Wagner? Should the politics of the composer interfere with the quality of his art? To what extent do we honor the memory of the Holocaust, its survivors and their descendants, without stifling the next generation? And would a Jewish Israeli conducting Wagner be treachery or triumph?
South African playwright Victor Gordon adapted his play for Zoom just before he passed away from COVID-19. This film is in his memory.
We’re proud to partner with the Forward, the nation’s oldest and leading Jewish news organization. Exclusive offer for registrants: Get 6 months of the Forward for only $15 (75% off!) and get unlimited access to news, culture and opinion — all through a Jewish lens. Claim your subscription and use promo code JARTS at checkout. And don’t miss a single story — sign up for the Forward’s free daily newsletters.
An Interview with Director Lilia Levitina
Lilia, how did you learn about You Will Not Play Wagner?
Lilia: It all started on a December afternoon in my driveway where I served traditional latkes in non traditional COVID-19 style to our friends Michael and Annette Miller. Annette said to me, “I have a play, and I want you to direct it.” This is how I learned about a South-African playwright Victor Gordon and his play “You Will Not Play Wagner.” Fast forward four months — and what had started as a Zoom theatre idea has evolved into a short film currently in a pre-production stage!
Tell us more about this evolution and who is helping to create this vision.
Lilia: The play itself has been turned into a script after multiple back-and-fourth drafts between Boston and Pretoria. Avi Hoffman has come on board to play a role of an ultimate deal-breaker; Director of Photography Rick Macomber, a two-time winner of the prestigious Emmy Award, will be filming Annette Miller in Lennox, MA in her role as Esther, a Holocaust survivor. A patron of the prestigious conductors’ competition (held virtually this memorable year!). Roland Novitsky, a talented Israeli cinematographer, will be filming an actor in Tel-Aviv in the role of Ya’akov, an Israeli conductor who gets into the final stage of the contest. The Hatch, Emmy’s, Telly’s and Monitor award-winning editor Christo Tsiaras will put it all together.
Are there certain themes or questions this production is asking?
Lilia: Who and what defines the Israeli narrative, its national myth? To what degree does the trauma of the past hold the grip on the present? Is moving on and into the future even possible without accommodating the past? Could the two irreconcilable positions be reconciled? And simply, could two people, each passionately believing in their one and only truth, hear each other?
Related Events & Content
TheatreWorks is a curated group of creative professionals, theater experts, and community organizers who work to broaden and enhance the scope and creative capacity of JArts theatre-based programming.View Series