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A Look at “Bad Jews”

Rehearsal for the Festival Playhouse production of “Bad Jews” (left to right: Aidan Johnson K'17, Kate Kreiss K'19, Lauren Landman K'18, Kyle Lampar K'17)

First published in 2012, “Bad Jews” is a play written by Joshua Harmon.

“Bad Jews” is about the three grandchildren of a recently deceased family patriarch: Liam Haber (Kyle Lampar K’17), his younger brother Jonah Haber (Aidan Johnson K’17), and their cousin Daphna Feygenbaum (Lauren Landman K’18). The four characters are trapped in a New York City apartment the whole night, during which they decide to fight over a family heirloom of their recently deceased grandpa, called a “chai”. Meaning “life” in Hebrew, the chai is typically a necklace that is worn that represents life.

Liam, choosing to absolve himself of his Jewish family, is Jewish in name only, and identifies as an atheist. Daphna, on the other hand, fully embraces her Jewish heritage. Liam calls her the “uber-jew.” Liam’s younger brother, Jonah, along with Melody (Kate Kreiss K’19), Liam’s non-Jewish girlfriend, are torn between the two sides.

The play uses these four characters to explore the identity of religion today.

This production of “Bad Jews” is directed by Ed Menta in collaboration with Dr. Jeffrey Haus, director of the Kalamazoo College Jewish Studies Program.

“Bad Jews” is a play that intends to deal with questions like “How Jewish are you?” and “How are you Jewish?” In this, the play follows the season theme, “Theatre and Belonging: Stories of Ethnicity and Racial Identity.”

Even though the play deals with questions of Judaism, Landman, who plays Daphna and is Jewish herself, said, “I think a lot of people at K will relate to what’s happening even if they’re not Jewish just because…they’re just people. They’re just people who are our age.”

Kreiss added, “‘Bad Jews’ is the story of figuring out who you are and where you belong, and that’s a story everyone can relate to.”

With a cast of four, Menta said, “working on a comedy with such a tight cast is a delight because I haven’t done it in so long.” He continued to laud the cast: “It has really been a pleasure working with this cast… because it’s such a small cast…they have brought an incredible professional ethic to the rehearsal process.” He added, “No one is ever a minute late. Everybody’s always ready to work no matter if they had a bad day or—let’s face it—things can pile up on you at K. And everyone is able to put all that aside and just concentrate on the play and doing the best they can for those three hour rehearsals.”

The show premieres on Thursday, Feb. 25 in the Dungeon Theatre at 7:30pm. The show will play again at 8 pm on Friday and Saturday and at 2 pm on Sunday.

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A Look at “Bad Jews”