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Eco-Jewish Play Fest at Coastal Roots Farm

"The Eco-Jewish Play Festival is an amazing attempt at making meaningful theatre that can inspire social change within our very own communities.”
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July 6, 2023
Photo courtesy of Coastal Roots Farms

“According to Jewish tradition, we create our lives — and our futures — based on the stories we tell.” Rebecca Joy Fletcher, Director of Jewish Life at Coastal Roots Farm, told the Journal. 

Rebecca Fletcher, director of Jewish Life at Coastal Roots Farm. Photo courtesy of Coastal Roots Farms.

When it comes to the environment, Fletcher believes we need to start telling better stories. “As much as there’s an environmental crisis today, there’s also a crisis of imagination,” she said. Whether they’re told via by the news or an individual, many climate stories are either complete doom and gloom or about a magical solution that’s going to fix everything. Neither extreme is healthy nor realistic. “Many of us, whether we realize it or not, feel [helpless and] overwhelmed by what’s happening globally environmentally,” Fletcher said. “We can help ourselves move away from overwhelm and into emotions that will buoy us, that will help us act, that will help us feel joyful in this time … if we tell new stories.” 

On July 16, for the first time in Southern California and, Fletcher believes, anywhere in North America, the Coastal Roots Farm will be co-producing an Eco-Jewish Play Fest with JFEST. Run by artistic director Todd Salovey and associate producer Becca Myers, JFest is the Lipinski Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival, which has been in San Diego county for 30 years.

In 24-hours, seven teams of playwrights, directors, stage managers and actors will create brand new ten-minute plays in response to eco-Jewish themes. 

In 24 hours, seven teams of playwrights, directors, stage managers and actors will create brand new 10-minute plays in response to eco-Jewish themes. The participants, who are prominent in their field, all have ties to the San Diego area. “The Eco-Jewish Play Festival is an amazing attempt at making meaningful theatre that can inspire social change within our very own communities,” Myers told the Journal. “In fact, part of the magic of this event is the plethora of phenomenally talented artists being brought together around a topic that inspires them, from all over San Diego county and beyond.”

The writers will be given topics and then will have about 12 hours to draft their plays, before sharing their work with their assigned director and actors. They will then have another 12 hours to put all the elements together for the performance. 

Salovey said that JFEST loves to partner on projects that create new work, which is unapologetically Jewish. “That this project is also eco-friendly makes it even more exciting,” Salovey said. “This much creativity in 24 hours will be so exciting to make, share and enjoy! … It’s really fun to experience artists making things quickly, because it’s not burdened by cost. These are brilliant, scrappy people making things fast, that’s fun.”

After the performances on the Farm on Sunday evening, there will be an afterparty, where the artists and audience can mingle. 

Fletcher believes that art is an essential part of societal transformation. Plus, she explained, that more and more, climate scientists, environmental leaders, those working on policy, carbon capturing and regenerative agriculture also understand that the arts are a key.“ Art and especially live performance has the capacity to open up pathways of thinking and possibility, to help you laugh,” she said. “Maybe you’ve never, ever laughed about the climate crisis before. And because you laugh, you see something possible that wasn’t possible before. You feel possibility in yourself.”

Whether you are passionate about environmental art, you enjoy thinking about climate in imaginative ways, love great theater or just want to come to the farm for a great experience, it’ll be worth the trip.

“JFest is so honored to collaborate with Coastal Roots Farm and support a project which promises to offer a huge impact on our community,” Myers said. 

Coastal Roots Farm is a 17-acre regenerative farm and education center, located in Encinitas. A nonprofit grounded in Jewish tradition and values, the Farm practices organic farming, shares their harvest with those who lack access and foster inclusive spaces for people of all ages and backgrounds.

“Being in a relationship with the natural world is at the core of Judaism,” Fletcher said. “The more that we can connect to our Jewish life in relation to the Earth, the better off we’re all going to be.”

To learn more about Coastal Roots Farm and the Eco-Jewish Play Fest, go to CoastalRootsFarm.org/event/eco-jewish-play-fest 

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