April/May 2007

Jewish fortune-seekers, synagogue-builders, feminists and frontier-busters faced off in Desert Dwellers, Part One; The Reformer's Apprentice, March 8, 2007 at the Los Angeles Central Library's Mark Taper Auditorium.


The audience hooted, gasped, sighed and left wanting more. The overall response was best expressed by Louise Steinman, Director of Cultural Programs for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.

Harriet:

You've done us all proud . . . what a beautiful, spirited, funny play that brings Jewish history to life in such a palpable way. The cast was damn good and Scott did a great job . . . he made brilliant use of the space. And this all came from your imagination, from your own experiences. A wonderful range of characters, from the schlemiels to the Yiddisher cowboys. I'd love to see the play fully staged and I trust this will come to be.


The Neophyte Playwright Reflects

One thing leads to another. The roots craze in the late 1960s sent me in search of the missing history of Jews in the American West. That quest spawned a four-centuries-long social history jammed with pioneers of unimaginable diversity. The characters I'd come to know in print and in person, layered with my family lore, began to clamor for the undocumented half of this history, accessible only in fiction. Once I'd probed their inner lives in the Desert Dwellers Trilogy, they wanted to see themselves depicted on stage as human beings, driven by licit and illicit impulses. I tried to get away with a play reading. But no, in Tucson, Colorado Springs, and now in Los Angeles, audiences feel live connections between themselves and these pioneers. Now they want more.

Taking the Stage: As the cast takes their places on stage, Harriet gives Director Scott Weintraub a send off handshake.Taking the Stage: As the cast takes their places on stage, Harriet gives Director Scott Weintraub a send off handshake.

Cast: Ben Covette as Bennie (left), Ray Proscia as Abram (right), and Brooke Bloom (center) as Frieda.Cast: Ben Covette as Bennie (left), Ray Proscia as Abram (right), and Brooke Bloom (center) as Frieda.

After the performance: Harriet chats with attendees and signs booksAfter the performance: Harriet chats with attendees and signs books

Next Stop

The next performance of the Desert Dwellers, Part One, The Reformer’s Apprentice, will be at 8:30 P.M. on June 18, 2007, Association of Jewish Libraries Annual Convention at the Scottsdale Hilton, 6333 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ, 85250.