Josh Zaré stars in The Mikvah Project, directed by Georgia Green, returning to the Orange Tree Theatre following its hugely successful limited run in the OT’s 2019 Directors’ Festival.
Written by Josh Azouz, The Mikvah Project runs at The Orange Tree Theatre from 28th February to 28th March 2020.
You’re starring in The Mikvah Project at The Orange Tree Theatre, what can you tell us about it?
It’s a Jewish teenaged boy’s telling of a major chapter in his life, which brings him together – in a curious, self-affirming, and at times mystifyingly arousing way – with an older Jewish man from his synagogue in North London.
You play Eitan, how would you describe the character and how much do you identify with him?
Eitan is a young man confronting one of modern society’s many grey areas. His experience of sexual and romantic attraction lies in total contradiction to his familial and ecclesiastical duties as a young boy of Jewish faith. Whilst I don’t identify with his religious circumstances, I meet him fully in his rooted conflict with a world that – at the worst of times – appears to reject, or not welcome, his fiercely awakening truth. We both happen to be one of three brothers and long-standing fans of Arsenal FC!
What first attracted you to the role?
When I first read the script it melted a baby-portion of my heart. I thought “I know this boy. We’ve shared a lot of thoughts and feelings”. This abundant feeling of joy to tell it hasn’t really left from the initial read through, through each and every rehearsal thereafter.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge for you as an actor in this role?
I’m confronted every day in rehearsals with the challenge of seeing the world again through the eyes and ears of a very young man, whose innocence, curiosity and openness is yet to be radically altered or conditioned by life experience. Along with the challenge of discovering how that change can happen within myself over the relatively short 60-70mins of playing time. It’s a privilege.
It’s written by Josh Azouz, what has impressed you most about the writing?
What Josh has achieved with the play – much like Call Me By Your Name does, as both novel and film – is give the viewer a window into a relationship between two people without judging, fetishising, or over-analysing it. It so happens that these two people are both male, Jewish and have an age gap of about 18 years. Like all great experiences in life, just when it appears set to yield all of life’s deeply yearned-for answers, it slips through our fingers and we find ourselves back in the unknown again.
Did you need to do much to research the role or the customs observed in the play?
Excluding myself, we were very fortunate as a company to have many creative members of Jewish faith and/or familial background. Not to say that there wasn’t homework to be done…understanding Mikvah etiquette takes some real thought and understanding! But many of the religious, social and historical elements were available to us in and around the rehearsal room which made space and time for greater exploration of the text itself.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see The Mikvah Project?
Hopefully to expect nothing and take from it what you will. If you’ve paid for a ticket enjoy the ride, laugh unashamedly, and remember the butterflies of first attraction! It’ll be over before you know it’s begun. I’m thrilled to be sharing it.
Main Image: Josh Zaré in rehearsal for The Mikvah Project at The Orange Tree Theatre Photos by The Other Richard