Written & Directed by James Fagan Tait
With Itai Erdal
Set Design by Naomi Sider
Costume Design by Nancy Tait
Lighting Design by Itai Erdal
What really happened in Sodom and Gomorrah? Long time collaborators, Itai Erdal and James Fagan Tait explore this question and the fascinating story of Abraham in their new play, Lot’s Wife. Set when the major religions of the western world were not yet fully formed, Lot’s Wife provides new perspectives on old stories which form the backbone of modern civilization. Erdal and Tait bring humour and a unique perspective to the journey of Abraham, his nephew Lot and their families, throwing fresh light on history and contemporary society.
Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire, Peter Brooks’ Mahabarata and the ritualized theatre of Ariane Mnouchkine are all inspirations for the staging of Lot’s Wife. This compelling story unfolds in a world of great beauty and simplicity created by the accomplished design team of Naomi Sider, Nancy Tait and Itai Erdal.
What if the first person who wrote the Old Testament was a woman in the court of King Rehoboam who came after Solomon in the year 920 before the Common Era?
What if she wrote it as a piece of fiction based on all the stories and legends of her people that were passed down orally from generation to generation?
What if she had no political or religious agenda?
Four years ago, while Itai and I were working on a project, together he likened a discussion we were having to the negotiation Abraham had with God – to save the innocent of Sodom and Gomorrah. I was moved by the story and the way he told it and I told him we should do it. On stage. Together. Writing and directing and he would light it too. We had our dear friend Kathryn Shaw over for dinner and she took it on.
Tonight’s performance is a result of a commission by Studio 58 that started six months ago. It has been a privilege and an honor to share our enthusiasm and work with all these lovely and most talented artists at Studio 58.
James Fagan Tait
I grew up in Jerusalem, surrounded by biblical scenery and biblical stories. In 1997 Jerusalem celebrated 3000 years, In the old city you can walk on cobble stones that were placed there in the 2nd century, and most people have no doubt that King David is indeed buried in the David Fortress, holding the same slingshot he used to kill Goliath. It is a pleasure to revisit some of those stories and interpret them with my good friend James Fagan Tait and this fantastic class of students. We started this process with me translating the bible from Hebrew and Jimmy recording me and then writing the dialogue. We’ve used a variety of sources in our research including the writings of Moses Maimonides (the Rambam) who interpreted the bible in the 12th century, as well direct quotes from the Mishnah (3rd Century) and the Talmud (6th century), the first major works of Rabbinic Judaism. In the centre of our play we placed Abraham, the father of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, as well as the first Monotheistic man. He was born in Ur Kasdim (modern day Iraq) in the centre of the Sumerian empire, the earliest known civilization in the world. The Sumerians invented the wheel, the plow and writing, but like everybody else in their time they worshipped many different gods. They had a god for the sun and a god for the moon, one for fresh water and one for agriculture etc. Abraham is considered the first person to rebel against that notion, claiming that there is only one god.