On Pyramids and Princes…Performance Art Passover: Slaves No More

Inspired by “Sleep No More” – the immersive theatre production loosely based on Macbeth by Punchdrunk Theatre, Open Temple’s Slaves No More began with a walk through Egypt.  With pyramid and parting of the Red Sea decorations by our very own Leonard Atlas (Shmei Drei-er in Residence), the experience deepened with each entrance to a room.  

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The experience continued through the pyramids into a bare room where we were instructed to “take a hold of a rope.” From there, a tale was woven, in between the introduction of the Passover Haggadah. Our seder wove a tale that told us “let go of another’s rope” and as we chose to continue our Freedom Journey, we entered the theatre where Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” was re-envisioned as a seder for our personal modern day heroes. With Zach Puchtel and Julia Prince as Moses and Pharaoh’s daughter, the seder began as an interactive invitation to “bring it to life” together. The seder continued, led by “Rabbi Bowie and Rabbi Prince” two “matzoh and puppet theatre” inspired puppets.

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Rina Cohen and the arc of our seder asked us consider personal agency in liberation. With the question “Why did God send the Angel of Death and not enact the 10th plague Goddself?”, we considered that, perhaps, the Israelites possessed the ability to leave Egypt themselves all along. Maybe, just maybe, the act of painting the doorposts of our homes with blood from the pascal lamb, was a reminder of the creativity that we possess to manifest our own path to liberation? We were all then invited to paint the doorposts of our exit with images of our own heroic dreams. And as we passed through the doorway, we imagined our footsteps as the beginning of our own path towards a newly embodied freedom. 

Meanwhile, downstairs in the Speakeasy….

Yes, parallel to our seder was a hidden room with an experience into the psyche. Sariyah Idan and her musicians hid out in a room at the end of a Golden Passage for participants to discover on their own for deepened participation in our Freedom Seder.  Reflection journals and paints were scattered amongst the cushions and bar tables for creation as Sariyah led the group through a musical psychological journey into the mind and soul of Seder.  Her songs touched upon the love we must cultivate to attain freedom and the freedom that finding one’s inner truth opens. 

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With all of the artistic expansiveness, there was one part of seder that did not go well. Our seder was to end with “table making” – a technique employed in community building where everyone creates the alter of the dining table together. When we journeyed from the theatre back into the dance studio to complete our seder, people were so hungry that they immediately took food. Admittedly, perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to have the food placed at the entrance of the room! Our best intention was to have everyone understand that a primary building block of Freedom is Community; and, in creating our seder tables, we were building Open Temple together. Although we have yet to achieve this aspect of our seder, we surely did succeed in the next steps in building Open Temple. With 160 souls participating in our Freedom Seder experiment, we can consider that Open Temple is a source for Freedom of Expression through Jewish Ritual in Venice!