Tradition and assimilation

Becky Steele, left, and Gordon Moon rehearse a scene from “Bad Jews” on Tuesday evening at Visions Hair Salon.

An upcoming production by the Queen’s Players Theatre Troupe is a dark comedy about religious identity and cultural assimilation.

“Bad Jews,” written by Joshua Harmon, is set to come to the stage at 7:30 p.m. March 23-24 at Blossom Yoga Studio, 152 N. Second St. Admission is free, with sponsorship from Wyoming Humanities Council. Refreshments will be offered and a talk-back session will take place after the performance.

The play focuses on three cousins in New York, set the night after their grandfather’s funeral. They argue over a family heirloom their grandfather carried with him through the Holocaust.

Director Rebecka Smith described Daphna as a devout follower of the Jewish faith, who’s even considering moving to Israel and studying to become a rabbi.

“She’s the one that takes this all very, very seriously,” Smith said.

Her cousin, Liam, has a Christian girlfriend and does not consider himself to be religious, much less a devout Jew. At the same time, he still wants the heirloom — traditionally passed through the male line.

“The next male heir that gets it is the one that does not respect the Jewish faith and doesn’t want to be Jewish,” Smith said.

Caught in the middle is Liam’s younger brother, Jonah, who wants nothing to do with the argument.

Daphna is also torn between the ambitions of her personal devotion and the expectations of her faith, which prohibit women from rabbinical studies and passing down those items.

“When does the religious identity of the item become more important than the traditions, and what does it take to carry those traditions forward?” Smith asked.

Meanwhile, the characters grapple with the notion of their American home and its melting pot culture as contrasted with the importance of maintaining their heritage.

“Does that fit into the ideal of what Americans are?” Smith said.

The play first premiered in 2012, and playwright Harmon said he was inspired to write it after attending a service in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day.

Smith said the themes in the play, such as religious identity, immigration and cultural assimilation, were important to discuss in Laramie.

“It hits on a lot of things that are relevant today, and it hits on a lot of things that can get people talking, and that’s the point of community theater, to get people talking,” she said.

Blossom Yoga Studio, a converted Methodist church, is a good venue for a production because of its downtown location, good acoustics and comfortable space, Smith said.

“We just want to make it a very inviting experience for everybody,” she said.

The Queen’s Players Theatre Troupe was founded in 2014 and has produced 14 plays and musicals, with a focus on comedy, in venues around Laramie.

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