My first foray into playwriting: lessons learned about writing and directing plays for kids

As I mentioned last week in passing, I spent a good chunk of time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur preparing a play for the kids at my synagogue. The topic: the story of Jonah, which is read during the afternoon of Yom Kippur.

Jonah sheltered by the vine

Yonah waiting to see if Nineveh gets destroyed. He’s kinda hoping it does. How’s that for schadenfreude?

Now, I’ve always thought this story was packed with humor. I mean, G-d singles Jonah out for a little tete-a-tete and he hops on a boat headed in the opposite direction as the mission G-d sent him on? Then he sleeps through the ginormous storm that has everyone else aboard freaking out and get swallowed by a giant fish. Come on!

And when Jonah finally makes it to Nineveh, it gets even wackier. Continue reading

With Chanukah just over…

Two Men Reading Paper

If Chanukah is over, it means just one thing in the Klempner household: time to prepare our annual Purim Spiel. Traditionally, a Purim spiel is a play, but in our household, we’ve transformed it into a pseudo-newspaper. Our friends and neighbors always enjoy receiving our Purim Spiel, and we put a lot of work into it to make it as wacky as possible.

Picture credit:

My husband, eldest child, and I actually collect material for our fake news stories and ads all year round, but it’s only after Chanukah that we start fleshing the ideas out and laying them out to look like a newspaper. I start collecting all the little bits my husband has emailed himself and scour my journal for bizarre thoughts I’ve scribbled (off-the-wall shaggy dog stories to make people groan, truly terrible puns that would make great names for sham products, off-beat reflections about life in L.A., and so on). As Purim gets closer, we usually mix in more time-sensitive material that’s based on current events.

As much pleasure as our readers get, we also get the pleasure of  knowing that we’re using our talents for goofiness to brighten people’s Purim. (Plus, I love the voicemails people leave for a week after Purim telling us which parts were their favorite.)

What’s really strange is that the more I write for professional purposes, the harder the Purim Spiel gets for me. I noticed it last year, and this year the feeling’s even stronger. It’s still fun to make (especially as it’s a family endeavor), and I still enjoy our readers’ reactions, but my energy is differently directed these days. Luckily, I have family members to keep me in line. We’ll get it done even if I’m distracted, IY”H.