1. Who is Judith?
Judith is the heroine of The Book of Judith, written at the time of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (530BCE - 70BC). In the Apocryphal text, she is described as a widow who is well-respected by her Jewish tribe. When the mercilessly destructive army of Holofernes, comes to destroy her people, the Jewish elders advise all to pray for 5 days before they surrender. Judith does not wish to wait. She volunteers herself to approach the general without any defense but her faith that God will protect her. She successfully charms the general, who drunkenly falls asleep in her company. She cuts off the head of the general and carries it back to her village. When the army wakes to find the Jewish soldiers at their camp, they discover the corpse and flee. Judith becomes renowned for her heroism.
2. Why are we adapting the story of Judith?
On November 8th 2016, America laid siege to itself by electing a White Supremacist into the White House. In our country’s long history of oppression, this event unmasked the alarming ugliness of the problem today. Each day of “45”’s presidency reminds us that we can not stay passive and silent. These are times for loud unified resistance. Our resistance is in creation and celebration, embodiment and vulnerability, empathy and collaboration. Our resistance is feminine.
Judith, as our heroine, is the symbol of a feminine-powered revolution. She represents the intersection of spirituality, bravery, agency and strength that inspires us as womxn to take action in the resistance to oppression and violence.
As a collective of artists and Jewish feminists, Well of Wills sees it as part of our mission to embolden the voices of womxn as leaders of the movement towards equity for the marginalized. We view activism and creativity as spiritual work. Through the deconstruction and reconstruction of a story of the Jewish people, we will summon the powers of collaboration, creative expression and community to create bold works of art that serve as prayer, ritual and catharsis.
3. What are the components of The Judith Project?
Part 1: Feminist Theater Master Class Series (Summer 2018)
Part 2: The Short Film (Release 12.4.2018)
Part 3: More Light!, Activating community in the intersection of art, activism and spirituality + Work in Progress preview of The Judiths of Virtuous Dissent (12.4.2018)
Part 4: The Judiths of Virtuous Dissent, a fully realized theatrical experience (Spring 2019)
4. Why are we using performance?
Theater is a powerful tool to process lived experience for people of all backgrounds. Theater not only provides profound catharsis for its audiences, but performers and makers alike. We began the Judith Project with open Master Classes, because we want our communities to have access to the devising process in order to empower individuals to create, express and collaborate more in everyday life. We invite womxn to find and embody the Judith within by telling stories of their lived experiences.
4. How does theater get made collaboratively?
By contrast to traditional theatre which starts with a script, devised theatre utilizes an ensemble who is actively collaborating on their feet in the rehearsal room, through discussion and play. Creative ideas are shared democratically and the piece becomes a reflection of the group.
Nessa’s process uses texts, popular culture, autobiographical storytelling and gestural movement as source material. She leads an ensemble in a reflective process of examining and discussing these sources, then translated important themes into characters, plot points and physical and verbal language. These pieces are organically woven into a narrative.
5. Who is the team behind this?
Nessa Norich is the director and writer of the performance piece in development. This project is produced by Hannah Roodman. Thank you to Ariel Warmflash, Stephanie Acosta, Mati Engel, and Meirav Ong for their respective creative and logistical supports on this project.
6. How is this project funded?
This project is generously supported by the UJA Brooklynites Grant, The Schusterman Family Foundation ROI Grassroots Event Grant, Syracuse University Special Opportunity Grant, The Dorot Foundation, and Moishe House Without Walls.