Geva Theatre Center's 2012 Nextstage Season concludes with Two Jews Walk Into a War…by Seth Rozin which begins performances on April 27 and runs in the Fielding Nextstage through May 20.
Inspired by the true story of the last two surviving Jews in all of Afghanistan, the only thing seeming to bind this small Jewish community together is that they both hate each other's guts. In a dilapidated old synagogue in Kabul, this odd couple's bold solution for rebuilding their community not only brings them closer to the essence of their faith but, quite possibly, each other.
In the 1940s the Jewish community in Kabul, Afghanistan numbered over 40,000. Following the Communist revolution, most of this population had emigrated, and by the 1990s when the Islamist Taliban regime came to power, there were only ten Jews still living in all of Afghanistan. In 2001, a reporter from Reuters wrote a story about the last two surviving Jews in Afghanistan, their unique relationship and their determination to keep their faith going against overwhelming odds. This story spread like wildfire and since then, nearly every major worldwide media outlet has covered the story of Zebylan Simintov and Ishaq Levy who were determined to stay in Afghanistan, seeing themselves as keepers of the flame of Judaism in their country. Life was not easy for them, and this was complicated by the fact that they literally hated each other's guts, often with hilarious results. Zebylan and Ishaq were indeed the Afghani version of The Odd Couple. It is the explosive, often humorous relationship between these two men and their determination to keep the faith even through the direst of circumstances that is at the heart of Two Jews Walk Into a War….
The 2009 world premiere of Seth Rozin's Two Jews Walked Into a War… was coproduced by the Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey and the New Jersey Repertory Company. The play has since been produced at theatres throughout the country where it has been lauded for its "crackerjack comedy" with "loads of laughs per minute." The theatrical success of this story lies in its universality. While subtitled "a vaudeville," the play affirms the value of faith, ritual, community and culture and asks audiences to explore what defines a community.
Seth Rozin is the author of several plays including Men of Stone (Barrymore Award nominee for Outstanding New Play), Missing Link (Barrymore Award nominee for Outstanding New Play), Reinventing Eden, The Space Between Us, and Black Gold, in addition to Two Jews Walk Into A War…. He has also written the book, lyrics and music for a new musical entitled A Passing Wind: The (Mostly) True Story of Joseph Pujol, about the rise and fall of the world's greatest "fartiste," which premiered at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts in 2011. Mr. Rozin is the recipient of two playwriting fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the 2007 Smith Prize, as well as a 2002 new play commission from the Foundation for Jewish Culture. He is the founder and Producing Artistic Director of InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia, where he has directed over 45 productions. He served as President of the National New Play Network from 2002-2006, and currently chairs the Philadelphia New Play Initiative.
This production of Two Jews Walk Into a War… stars two of Boston's finest actors making their Rochester debuts. Jeremiah Kissel and Will LeBow reprise their roles of Zeblyan and Ishaq from the 2011 critically-acclaimed production at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, Massachusetts. Mr. Kissel is a thirty-year veteran of Boston theatre where he has appeared in productions at the Huntington Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, Lyric Stage, Commonwealth Shakespeare, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre in addition to theatre in New York. Film and TV credits include The Fighter and "Body of Proof." Mr. LeBow is a seasoned veteran of Boston Theatre where he has appeared in over 55 productions at The American Repertory Theatre and has appeared in the Boston production of Shear Madness since its 1980 debut.