Promoting Israeli Theatre

Playwright Savyon Liebrecht with Artistic Director Guy Ben-Aharon, in Tel Aviv.
Courtesy photo
Playwright Savyon Liebrecht with Artistic Director Guy Ben-Aharon, in Tel Aviv.

By Sheila Barth

Published March 13, 2014, issue of March 13, 2014.

Award-winning Israeli author/playwright Savyon Liebrecht arrives in Boston on March 19 for a two-week residency featuring workshop-style, world premieres of her two latest plays involving Austrian neurologist-psychoanalyst founding father, Sigmund Freud, and his renowned colleague, Carl Jung.  

As part of Israeli Stage Company Artistic Director Guy Ben-Aharon’s new in-residence program to promote Israeli theater by bringing top playwrights here, Liebrecht will appear at five local colleges and universities (see sidebar). All events are free, but donations will be accepted. No reservations are accepted, so attendees should plan to arrive early.

Last year, Ben-Aharon produced Liebrecht’s play, “Apples From the Desert,” the story of a young woman who decides to leave her Orthodox Jewish community for the secular world.  

Liebrecht has won three literary awards in Israel, and in her past 10 years as a playwright, four of her five staged plays won Play of the Year awards.

Liebrecht is fascinated by Freud. In “Freud’s Women,” a one-act, 1½-hour play, Liebrecht focuses on Freud’s relationship with three women most dear to him: his sister-in-law, Minna Bernays, with whom he went on vacations; his wife, Martha; and his daughter, Anna, who became a famous psychoanalyst in her own right. Melia Bensussen directs a star-studded Boston cast.

“The other play is ‘Dear Sigmund and Carl,’ about the meeting between Ernst Freud, Sigmund Freud’s son, and Franz Jung, Carl Jung’s son, who met after their fathers’ deaths to discuss publishing the correspondence between them,” Liebrecht explained.

That play is based on her extensive research on Freud and Jung’s letters. In 1969, Franz Jung gave Ernst Freud a box of Freud’s letters his father had saved through the years. The letters are authentic, but Liebrecht took literary license with the sons’ dialogue.

Ben-Aharon directs the 65-minute, one-act play, starring Boston actors Will Lyman, Pat Shea and Rebecca Schneebaum.

“‘Dear Sigmund and Carl’ is a darling of a play,” said Ben-Aharon. “I love its intrinsic humor and the way she brings out not only the relationship between these two men, but their relationship with their fathers.” 

Liebrecht explained, “When I write — be it a story or a play — I want neither to convey a message, nor to entertain. I feel I need to put on paper the sounds and images that fill my imagination. The correspondence between Freud and Jung is easy to [obtain]. It is even published in Hebrew. I have been reading about Freud and writing the plays for the last six years.”

Ben-Aharon added, “What she does best is take historical moments and interactions and put them on stage.”

Liebrecht, who was born in Munich, Germany, in 1948, to Holocaust survivors, immigrated at an early age to Israel.

“It is impossible to be brought up by parents who underwent such a trauma without being influenced by it,” she wrote. “I believe that most of my choices, preferences, decisions and political views are influenced by their history. Indirectly, it definitely influenced my writing.”

Local Stops for Savyon Liebrecht

March 26, 7 p.m. She will present a lecture at Boston University’s Hillel, 213 Bay State Rd., Boston.

March 27, 7 p.m. Performance of “Dear Sigmund and Carl” at Brandeis University’s Spingold Theater, 415 South St., Waltham, with post-show Q&A.

March 29, 2 p.m. Performance of “Dear Sigmund and Carl” at Babson College, 231 Forest St., Babson Park, Wellesley, with post-show Q&A.

March 30, 7 p.m. Performance of “Freud’s Women” at Boston University’s Playwright Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, with post-show Q&A.

March 31, 8 p.m. Performance of “Dear Sigmund and Carl” at Babson College, with post-show Q&A.

April 1, 4 p.m. Liebrecht lecture on “The Creative Process” at Emerson College, Boston.

Liebrecht events are produced in partnership with Babson College, Boston University (Jewish Cultural Endowment, Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, The Hebrew Program, Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature), Brandeis University (Center for German & European Studies, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies), CJP, Emerson College, Goethe-Institut Boston and StandWithUs.

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