Friday, March 10, 2017

Golda’s Balcony—Triangle Productions!—NE Portland

A Force of Nature

This one-woman show, starring Wendy Westerwelle as Golda Meir, is written by William Gibson and directed and designed by Donald Horn (Triangle’s Artistic Director).  It is playing at their space in The Sanctuary (appropriate name nowadays), 1785 NE Sandy Blvd., through April 2nd.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-239-5919.

That above phrase not only goes for the focus character in this production, Golda, but also for the actor behind it, Wendy (note, I usually use the term actor to describe either the male or female performer because I am a purist, as there is, in actuality, no such word as “actress.”  An actor is simply “a theatrical performer,” no gender connected, or disrespect intended).  Meir ranks up there with other “forces of nature” such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Dr. Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, et. al.  Not because these people always were popular or did the “right thing,” but because they always searched for the Truth and then followed through on their convictions to promote it.

It is, perhaps, timely in this day and age, that we are honoring theatrically a Jewish leader, with such destruction and disrespect that there is going on around us, against those of the Jewish Faith.  Likewise, of course, for those of the Moslem religion, people of Latino heritage, those who are Gay, the violence against Afro-Americans, et. al.  It seems to be a sign of the times and, in my opinion, a giant step backward.  But, thank God, we, in the artistic community, are supporters of the Ghostlight Project.  If not familiar with this, Google it.

“Create the kind of self that you’d be happy to live with all your life.” Words she lived by but that does not mean it will agree with the kind of life she was thrust into.  Coming from a poor family and being raised in Milwaukee, you’d think she’d try to pull herself up there and search for the elusive “American Dream.”  She also married a man who had a “good soul” and had two children by him.  All the more reason to stay and claim her rightful place in this “brave, new world,” I would think, but it was not to be.

She was inspired by fire of Zion and the writings of David Ben-Gurion and sojourned to Palestine to be part of the movement to create a permanent, Jewish identity, a place to call Home.  After all, they had been a wandering tribe since the days of Moses and were still looking for their Promised Land.  They had always had enemies, even more so during the 30’s & 40’s with the Nazis.  But, since then, it had been with the Arabs, Turks, Soviets, Brits, and most of the countries in the Middle East.  Even America seemed reluctant to support their cause at first.

But, as I’ve said, she was a force of nature and her involvement in these battles was crucial for the victories that were created during the 50’s-70’s.  She did see Israel become an independent nation in the late 40’s and become a nuclear power thereafter.  But she also lost her husband and became a distant parent to her two children.  To simply sit and relax on her laurels was not an option.  She because Prime Minister in 1969 and was active in political affairs until her death of cancer in 1978.  It is interesting to reflect on the title of the play, as Golda’s balconies in her life consisted of one overlooking the calming waters and the other viewing the nuclear facility in her country.  Those contrasts in life are always there, it just depends on one’s perspective as to how one deals with them.  For the complete story, see Westerwelle’s performance, as she relates it a lot better than I could.

The desire of playing this character has long been a dream of Westerwelle’s and now it has come to fruition.  She just doesn’t speak Meir’s words, she becomes them!  Ingrid Bergman did justice to the character for a Bio-Pic of her for a TV audience, but it is something else entirely when you are face-to-face with her, feeling that you are sitting in the same room, as then you can then absorb some her passion and know that you are not only observing a great personage (and actor) but getting inside her skin and seeing what makes her tick.  It is not only a rewarding “entertainment” experience but also an educational one!  (This is one of the trademarks, also, of Horn and his Triangle Productions!)  I’m never disappointed in Horn or his ability to move an audience.  I always feel somehow smarter after one of his productions.  To Westerwelle—May You Live Long and Prosper.  Shalom!

I highly recommend this production.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you

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