Complicated Family Stories Are Explored in The Braid’s New Salon Show ‘Family Matters’

February 17, 2021
Jasmine Curry and Rick Zieff

Complex family relationships are the theme of a new salon show by The Braid, formerly Jewish Women’s Theatre. Opening on March 6, community theatergoers will have the chance to see this show, titled, “Family Matters,” virtually across the globe on Zoom.

“Family Matters” is the latest family-focused salon show that showcases stories, songs, videos and short plays. The Braid’s artistic director Ronda Spinak told the Journal in a statement that family roots provide the perfect backdrop for the virtual performace.

“An unknown poet once wrote, ‘Families are like branches in a tree. We grow in different directions, yet our roots remain one,’” Spinak said. “The creative, personal, and revealing stories we have selected for our new salon show how our roots do indeed bind us, but how we all struggle to develop and strengthen ourselves because of or in spite of them.”

The show features 14 stories about family dynamics, mended relationships, coping with grief, welcoming new members into a family, drug abuse and what it means to carry on a family legacy.

The show features four of The Braid’s actors: Writer-actress-singer-comic Shelly Goldstein, who is also writing a new story for the show; Emmy award nominee Rick Zieff, who specializes in portraying “the Jewish experience” and voice-acting dogs; Jasmine Curry, who often appears in improv and sketch comedy shows with groups such as The Groundlings; and “Picket Fences” and “Cheersactress Kate Zentall.

Susan Baskin, Mike Himelstein, Susan Wolfe, Wendy Turk, Scott Hart, Mindi Rivin, Natasha Basley, Paulette Rochelle-Levy and Andrew Fromer also wrote poetry, music and plays for the show.

Spinak said she reviewed more than 350 submissions for the show, each one sharing personal stories about complicated relationships. While every story can’t be included in a 65-minute production, she wanted to dive into what family looks like in contemporary Jewish life.

“Drama is all about conflict and obstacles, learning and resolution. In curating our salon shows, I do my best at representing many points of view that touch on the theme, especially those that debunk stereotypes and illuminate our human condition,” Spinak said. “For ‘Family Matters,’ it was important that many kinds of families be represented.”

Now in its 13th season, The Braid’s salon theatre of original dramatic works, each written to a specific theme, displays the diverse and eclectic community of writers, artists, and creators who celebrate Jewish life, one story at a time. For the first time, the performance will also feature a short film in which the company of Braid actors tells favorite stories about their own families.

“Family Matters” will be performed live on Zoom at 8 p.m. PST on March 6 and 7:30 p.m. on March 11 and 15, plus a matinee on Sunday, March 7, at 11 a.m. PST.  Tickets and additional information are available on the Braid’s website.

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