In the Art Church, a house of a theater with carpeted stairs and a open room set with rows of chairs, performer collaborators Chana Rothman and Annie Lewis greeted the audience with a warm proposition: to join in. Sourced in Jewish tradition, the duo explored scapegoating, speaking openly of their own struggles. Sharing about motherhood and identity within American Jewish culture, guilt and shame blurred as they spoke of heavy and light hearted burdens.
Rothman and Lewis asked audience members to break into small groups to discuss their feelings on using scapegoats. Many agreed it certainly didn’t seem so great for the goat. Bringing up political and personal experiences, the audience participants embraced the prompt to share, creating a community feeling that would build as the ritual continued. Papers were passed around in an exercise called exquisite corpse, where audience participants wrote down “for the sin of..”, folding one on top of the other, later to be read and released. Guilt and shame are often built in the shadows, piled on and reinforced by time. Focusing on the feeling of being weighted down, of feeling guilty, the interactive approach seemed built to be itself a relief: a communal act of showing and airing it out.
[The Art Church of West Philadelphia, 5219 Webster Street] September 15-17, 2016; fringearts.com/kapparot.