"Giant Shadows" at Theater J Sunday, July 10

In Giant Shadows, protagonist Andy Glickman is a Jewish dork who thinks too much. He’s also the son of Holocaust survivors who torments his parents by making movies about his suffering—“Schlock Docudramedy,” he calls it—much like Giant Shadows’ author, Ari Roth, does through plays. Not unlike Federico Fellini, Roth, artistic director of the D.C. Jewish Community Center’s in-house theater company Theater J, bases the play’s characters on his family, but adds a dollop of surrealism. A family dinner is interrupted with visions of Andy’s mother escaping Nazi Germany and dreamlike sequences where Andy searches for meaning in a jar of jam. The absurdist-leaning work follows Andy’s search for duendé, that expression of deep pain and ecstasy usually seen in flamenco. The play is a long time coming—Roth wrote it in 1986 and it was heavily workshopped before he put it aside. But tonight, professional actors and acting students from Theatre Lab will read Giant Shadows as part of The Born Guilty Cycle, which includes two other Roth works: Born Guilty, based on a book in which the child of Holocaust survivors interviews the family members of Nazis, and its sequel, The Wolf in Peter. The Born Guilty Cycle attempts to show that while families of war criminals feel guilty for their fathers’ sins, survivors’ children grow up guilty, too—especially when their parents did terrible things to survive. The reading takes place at 7:30 p.m. at Theater J at the D.C. Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th St. NW, and on July 26 at 7 p.m. at the National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Free. Reserve seats at theatrelab.org or call 202-824-0449.

Correction: Due to reporting errors, this City Lights pick misidentified the name of the protagonist Andy Glickstein in Ari Roth's play Giant Shadows, and inaccurately said that a montage in the play takes place during a family dinner. It takes place during preparations for an engagement party. Also, due to an editing error, we inaccurately characterized the nature of the protagonist's films. They depict Glickstein's parents' suffering, not his own.

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