July 23, 2020, 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
The Kennedy Center is shut down, but thanks to YouTube and Zoom, we can bring the theater experience to you! Click here to watch an actor reading of The Hairy Man, a play about a Jewish American immigrant during the Depression tackling issues of love, racism, anti-Semitism, and assimilation. Then, join us on Zoom to meet and talk with the playwright, Bryan Halperin. Conversation will be moderated by congregant Aryeh Portnoy, friend of the playwright.
The Hairy Man takes place in 1935, during the Great Depression. Lonely, imaginative 11-year-old Johanna “Jojo” Benton is play acting a story one evening in her family’s Kentucky barn when her solitude is interrupted by a stranger. A destitute wanderer with a long beard and curly hair, Jojo suspects he is the “Hairy Man” — a sinister trickster from a southern American folk tale her late father used to tell her — whom she thinks has come to take her away.
But the man is simply a poor Jewish immigrant, Abraham Goldstein, making his way to California to begin a new life. Jojo’s mother, Sarah, takes pity on the penniless, starving man and allows him to stay in the barn and work on the farm to earn money to continue his journey, despite the objections of her older son, Will, who is suspicious of this outsider, the first Jew they have ever met. As weeks pass, Jojo and Abraham discover a shared love of storytelling and create a theatre in the barn, while Sarah and Abraham learn they have more in common than they could ever have imagined.
Bryan Halperin is a co-founder of The Winnipesaukee Playhouse, where he served as executive director from 2004-2014. Bryan has written several plays and musicals to be performed for, or with, children and more recently began to write plays for adults. His play The Unicycle of Life was workshopped at the Playhouse in 2013 and was runner-up for best original play at the annual NH Theatre Awards. Since 2014 Bryan has become a freelance director and has devoted more time to writing. His play The Hairy Man won the 2019 Pestalozzi Prize at the New Works Festival of the Firehouse Center for the Arts. It was a semi-finalist for Premiere Stages Play Festival also in 2019. He also directs plays at the local middle school to stay involved in the community. As a director, Bryan has won 6 NH Theatre Awards and been runner up numerous other times.
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