Running time: appoximately 90 minutes without an intermission.
Written and adapted by Ofra Daniel, Music by Ofra Daniel and Lior Ben-Hur
Directed by Christopher Renshaw
Choreographed by Matt Cole
Music Direction by Ali Paris
September 4-29, 2019
A passionate new musical
From an extraordinary collaboration of international artists comes Love Sick, the critically-acclaimed new musical that fuses a thrilling original score, Middle-Eastern harmonics, dazzling choreography, and an inspired story of passion and awakening. Based on the Song of Songs, Love Sick tells the story a young wife in a lifeless marriage who discovers she has a secret admirer. Intrigued, she begins a mysterious and dizzying journey of sexual and personal empowerment.
Love Sick’s creative team includes Olivier and Tony Award nominee Christopher Renshaw, internationally-acclaimed Israeli actress/writer Ofra Daniel, and celebrated Palestinian musician Ali Paris.
“Triumphant…an extraordinary musical spectacle” –Washington City Paper
SCENIC DESIGNER: Misha Kachman
COSTUME DESIGNER: Kelsey Hunt
LIGHTING DESIGNER: Andrew R. Cissna
SOUND DESIGNER: Brendan Aanes
PROPS DESIGNER: Pam Weiner
ASSOCIATE MUSIC DIRECTOR: Bill Yanesh
PRODUCTION STAGE MANAGER: Anthony O. Bullock
Wednesday, September 11 following the 7:30 PM show
Sunday, September 15 following the 2:00 PM show
Ofra Daniel, actor/writer; and Kelsey Hunt, Costume Designer
Over the past four years, Love Sick has grown from a one-woman show to a full-blown musical. How did it get here? And what did Theater J’s production entail? Join Love Sick’s Ofra Daniel and costume designer Kelsey Hunt to discuss the creative process that accompanied the development and production of this new musical.
Wednesday, September 18 following the 7:30 PM show
Join us for EndNotes, an informal gathering immediately following the performance that gives audience members an opportunity to engage in communal, synergistic conversation about the play. Like a theater-lover’s book club (wine included). Wine for this event is made possible by the support of the Embassy of Israel.
Sunday, September 22 following the 2:00 PM show
Alice Ogden Bellis, Ph.D., Professor of Hebrew Bible, Howard University School of Divinity and Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Adat Shalom
What role has the Book of Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) played in Jewish tradition and what does it have to say to us today? Join us for a discussion about the theological implications of the book of Hebrew scriptures that inspired Love Sick.
Patti and Mitchell Herman
Arlene and Martin Klepper
Andrea Boyarsky-Maisel and Harvey Maisel
Embassy of Israel
Jeff Menick, in loving memory of Marlene Menick (9-9-1919)
Exploring Metaphor in Song of Songs
By Ellen Morgan Peltz, Theater J Literary Director
“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
if ye find my beloved, what will ye tell him?
that I am love-sick”
–Song of Songs 5:8 (JPS Tanakah 1917)
If love is universally desired and sickness is universally despised, what do we do with a word that combines both concepts? Can such opposite sensations co-exist in the same emotion? As it turns out, this “love” and “sickness” mashup is only one of many unexpected pairings in Song of Songs, a book of ancient love poems in Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) that paints a surprisingly fresh and complex portrait of desire.
Like other notable examples of lyric poetry (Shakespeare’s sonnets or much of Emily Dickinson’s work), Song of Songs uses metaphor to expand, challenge or complicate the traditional understanding of words and concepts. Tod Linafelt, Professor of Biblical Literature at Georgetown, has spent his career exploring the many possible meanings contained within Song of Songs’ metaphors. In a recent interview with Theater J he helped unpack some of the most complicated ones. “Almost everything in poetry can mean more than one thing, said Linafelt “and that’s part of what makes it interesting and fun to read.”
Take gender roles, for example. “Our whole history of love poetry – certainly in the West but I think globally – is almost entirely men writing poems about women,” said Linafelt. “Women are objects of desire – literally grammatically objectified but also conceptually objectified.” And yet, in Song of Songs, “the female speaker gets to express desire for her male lover, just like the male speaker gets to do.” In fact, Song of Songs’ egalitarian vision of love extends beyond equal representation to the type of metaphors that are used – both the man and the woman are described with metaphors of softness and beauty (doves, lilies, gazelles) as well as metaphors of power and strength (towers and ramparts and marble pillars). “Part of what I like about Song of Songs,” Linafelt added, “it is that it’s nonpolemical. It’s not an argument for egalitarian relationships. Instead, it just presents it in this luscious, beautiful, non-threatening poetry, and before you know it, male readers are talking like the female speaker and female readers are talking like the male speaker.”
Hard and fast lines between gender roles aren’t the only borders that Song of Songs blurs. In general, the book offers a highly positive view of erotic love and sexuality, but Linafelt pointed out that it’s not all gazelles and pomegranates. “All the great love literature – poetry or otherwise – celebrates the thrill that erotic love gives us, its power over our lives. At the same time, there’s something threatening about that. And sometimes that threat gets out of hand. Sometimes it ends badly.”
This tension between the thrill and threat of love is woven throughout the text, but is most apparent near the end of Song of Songs when the poet makes this powerful and climactic statement:
For love is fierce as death
Passion is mighty as Sheol;
Its darts are darts of fire,
A blazing flame.
–Song of Songs 8:6 (JPS, 1985)
With this statement, Linafelt explained, the poet could be saying that love is something that will overcome and survive death. But the poet could also be saying that love – like death – can catch us unawares and destroy us. By using an intentionally ambiguous metaphorical image for the power of desire, the poet dissolves the border between anguish and ecstasy, locating them both in the concept of love.
In this context, the concept of being sick with love makes sense. Desire, as the poet reminds us again and again, is no respecter of clear-cut categories. The challenge of Song of Songs is not to get lost in the flowery language on the way recognizing the experience it describes. Hidden beneath the doves and gazelles of Song of Songs is an experience of love that is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. As Linafelt so succinctly put it, “Poetry exists for us to use in our lives.” Consider this your invitation.