Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Meet The Bible Players - Torah Improv Comedy For All Ages


The Bible Players are a two-man team performing a unique kind of stand-up comedy -- they act out stories from the Torah in improv style. In the words of The Jewish Exponent, "Midrash meets Monty Python."

The players, Andrew Davies and Aaron Friedman, have a solid Jewish education, having met as students at the Akiba Hebrew Academy. Davies graduated from Brandeis University while Friedman, a stand-up comedian and Hebrew school teacher, earned his bachelor's degree at the Albert A. List College, a joint program of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University in New York City.

As Bryan Schwartzman wrote in Philadelphia's Jewish Exponent,
What would happen if two 20-something Jews were asked to entertain hundreds of restless Ramah campers for an hour on a rain-soaked summer day? As it turned out, it was something like midrash meets Monty Python, with a little bit of Mel thrown in -- Brooks, that is.
That's how Andrew Davies and Aaron Friedman -- who both spent the summer of 2010 working at the Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, N.Y. -- explain the genesis of The Bible Players. The duo use improvisation and comedy to teach the lessons of the Torah.
"That was the day that we realized that performing and creating stories could work well with the way we like to study Torah -- where we make it our own and make it personal," said Davies
The idea has taken off beyond expectations. For more than a year now, Davis and Friedman have performed their shtick in more than 50 synagogues, JCCs and Jewish camps in the New York City area.
Eschewing elaborate costumes for bright T-shirts and baseball caps, the two deliver hammy interpretations of such biblical stories as Noah's ark, Jacob and Esau, and Moses and the burning bush. (Moses somehow has a Brooklyn accent and sounds a lot like Woody Allen.)
"We are teaching on one foot, summarizing stories and putting them in our own words -- and teaching kids as well that they can be interpreters of Torah themselves," said Friedman.
These two have serious Torah study behind them, and each hopes to share their enthusiasm with their young audiences.
"I think we really want to be honest and authentic about information in the story. We do serious research before we write and perform a sketch," said Davies.
They said they were thankful to have attended day school, and think it's more difficult to absorb Torah in a supplementary school setting.
In this video, they act out the encounter between Moses and the burning bush, which we read in last week's Torah portion.
 
Enjoy!

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3 comments:

  1. Their act is probably acceptable for very young people, like under 10 years of age. Not appropriate for adults, sorry.

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    Replies
    1. Sure it is. The allusions to Nixon and other recent/current events were hilarious.

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  2. I think it's for kids, and parents with kids, and adults who were kids once upon a time.

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