"The comedic nature of the play strikes a comforting chord for Jewish New Yorkers and differs from other Jewish theatrical fare of the past year. Unlike recent Broadway hits “Parade” and “Leopoldstadt” — which are both focused on historical stories of violence and antisemitism — “Bettinger’s Luggage” uses a father and son’s day-to-day life to begin a conversation about discrimination and cross-cultural communication."
"Like the Bettingers and the other characters who populate their Lower East Side storefront, Tapper knows that people thrive best in community — whether a community of artists, of Jews, or both. When that sense of community is breached, we may feel that we face our struggles alone."
It has been a horrific week for Jews and Muslims with the conflict between Israel and Hamas reaching horrendous heights. It feels as though our sense of community has been breached and that no one is safe, especially Jews and Muslims globally. I know our play cannot solve this conflict, but it can help heal our wounds and sadness. My brother-in-law, a talented musician and photographer, is visiting us, but he got sick, so has missed out on a lot because he just doesn't have the strength to do everything we planned, but he did come to the play on Thursday and he said: "After the show I felt so much better. As an artist going to the stage is healing, I went to sleep last night feeling as though I was healed." That is the power of performance, it creates community and safe spaces for people to laugh and cry together. A space where we can unwind and relax after a world gone crazy with violence has left us feeling weak and confused.
On a lighter note, Dan Bettinger, George's brother, and his lovely family came to watch the show on Wednesday and they filled us in on all the details of their family that didn't make it into the play. I have no doubt that seeing his family on stage was an emotional experience, but he enjoyed it and I think it is a great tribute to his late father and brother. Emmet Adams, who works with Dan Bettinger at his store Altman Luggage came with the family and we found out that the character Angel is based on Emmet! It was wonderful finding this out and for Sean Church-Gonzalez to meet Emmet. This play is really special and we are so very proud of how it is bringing people together and starting positive conversations and friendships.
Life can be very lonely and so we are trying to make AMT a home for creatives in NYC. One of the ways we have been doing that is through our New Work Development Program. This program gives writers the opportunity to hear their new play out loud and for artists and audiences to give them feedback. This is crucial to their happiness and the development of their new work. We do this all for free!
So, why not help us keep writers happy this Giving Tuesday, November 28 2023, by donating money to help keep this free for everyone. The money raised will go towards the costs involved by providing the theater for free, printing scripts, marketing and programs and if we raise enough we can pay the writers, directors and actors a small stipend to cover their travel and rehearsal costs.
Have a good weekend everyone try to stay connected with your local community and reach out to anyone who may seem in need of a hug or a kind word. Stay safe and pray for peace, goodness knows we need it.