HomeFeaturesEmerging playwright Ori Black talks about his new play...

Emerging playwright Ori Black talks about his new play – now on at WJT: “Summer of Semitism”

By MYRON LOVE It is fitting that budding Toronto-based actor and playwright Ori Black’s first play – “Summer of Semitism”, which is running from April 29-May 7 (with a preview night set for April 27) is set in the context of a Jewish summer camp.
“My camping experience at Camp Gesher (a Habonim Dror camp near Kingston, Ontario) when I was a teen had a major impact on strengthening my Jewish identity,” says the young actor and playwright who grew up in the small Jewish community in Oshawa. “While I had a bar mitzvah, my formal Jewish education was restricted to Tuesday evenings and Sunday mornings at Hebrew school.”
He says that he wrote “Summer of Semitism” with an eye to appealing to a younger Jewish audience, for whom the summer camp experience is virtually a rite of passage, often with a lasting impact on campers as they go through life.
“Summer of Semitism,” the playwright points out, is the story of four long-time friends – now head staff– who show up just before camp opens for the season to find out to their shock and dismay that an act of antisemitism has occurred on the campgrounds. They have to come to terms with the oldest hatred before the campers arrive.
“In my play, I try to highlight the confusion and disconcerting feelings when dealing with hate,” he explains. “How do you move on from that? And what does this look like from the perspective of a non-Jewish friend and ally.”
Black’s own experience with antisemitism stems largely from his days as a student of theatre at York University. “I am a proud Jew,” he says. “But, during that time in my life, I was not comfortable openly wearing my Maagen David.”
Black graduated in 2019 – about the same time that he began developing “Summer of Semitism.” “One of my professors suggested that I produce my own plays if I wanted to make sure that I could find work as a young actor,” he recounts. “And I love telling stories.”
Black himself will be one of the four actors in the all-Toronto cast, who all originated their roles in the Paprika Festival production in Toronto in 2021. One of the actors is Hershel Blatt, who has also been developing his own work through WJT.
(You can read a story written last July about Hershel Blatt on our website at https://jewishpostandnews.ca/features/toronto-based-actor-playwright-to-make-winnipeg-jewish-theatre-debut-in-new-year.)
“I am grateful both to (former) Winnipeg Jewish Theatre artistic director Ari Weinberg and (current director) Krista Jackson for their support and encouragement,” Black says.
“I am hoping that there might be some interest among Toronto Jewish theatres to stage my play in the coming year.”

- Advertisement -