Benefiting: Jewish Social Services Hospice & Visiting Nurse Service of New York Hospice and Palliative Care
Produced by White Rabbit Theatre
Written by Andrew Rothkin
Directed by Greg Cicchino
An unexpected knock and Jonny’s home again… to his sister, his niece, and the past he left behind. Join the Cohens as their Bubby guides them on a journey, traversing darkness, finding light… After all, Bubby’s not one to let a little snag like death stop her from fixing her family.”
- Sun 6/3/12 – 12:00pm
- Tue 6/5/12 – 4:00pm
- Sat 6/9/12 – 4:30pm
- Fri 6/15/12 – 6:00pm
- Sun 6/17/12 – 11:00am
- Tues 6/19/12 – 8:30pm
- Wed 6/20/12 – 6:00pm
- Sat 6/23/12 – 7:00pm
Answers by Andrew Rothkin
Karen Tortora-Lee’s Question
How did you come up with the title for your show?
Andrew: Coming up with a title for one of my pieces, whether it is a poem, short story, one-act or full-length play, always comes at different times. Sometimes it is the first thing I come up with; sometimes it is the last thing I come up with; or it can occur any time during the process.
My initial working title for the piece (which I had forgotten until now) was simply Nanny, what my siblings, my cousins and I all called our wonderful, dear grandmother.
The inspiration eventually hit, and I devised Bubby’s Shadow, Bubby’s Light. I liked it then – and like that now… but virtually everyone I talked to thought the title was too much. Indeed, I just as easily could have called it Bubby’s Light, as the play is as much about light as it is about darkness, as much about illumination as it is about mystery…. In the end, I opted for the title that would intrigue me most if I were an unbiased theatregoer.
Diánna Martin’s Question
If you were going to invite 5 people (from the past or present) to see your show – who would you invite … and why?
Andrew: My mom and all four grandparents – all of whom are deceased. For me, much of the play is about reclaiming of one’s heritage and a celebration of family bonds…as well as the continuation of these bonds, even after death.
My maternal grandparents filled me with many of the happiest memories of my childhood, and many details of Bubby’s Shadow are inspired and reflective of their spirit – most particularly, holidays in their home. Above all, the play is infused with my tender, joyful memories of Passover in their home.
I never met my paternal grandparents; the both died shortly before I was born. As is the Jewish tradition, I was named for those who died: Andrew Brian for Anna and for Benjamin. In the initial few drafts of Bubby’s Shadow, I spent countless hours researching my heritage and what it means to be Jewish – and gave a lot of consideration to how familial bonds and love outlive our physical forms. Thus, I have never wanted to meet these great souls more than while working on this play.
Finally, my mother had always been my best friend and my biggest inspiration – and she was a great help to me during the initial creation of the play and indispensable to the first production. So much of this play is filled with my mother – her history, her spirituality, her heart, her soul… She passed away a little over a year ago, and her belief in the afterlife and her understanding of death as a part of life (she was a hospice nurse, among other things), has meant more to me than ever before – and has made Bubby’s Shadow much more personal and much more relevant than it ever felt before.
Antonio Minino’s Question
What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made for your art and was it worth it?
Andrew: Like all serious, ambitious artists, I have made great sacrifices throughout my life: putting in many, many times the hours on my creative work than I ever did for the work that pays me, spending countless nights at my computer or in rehearsal while my friends were out having fun, spending most of my funds on producing shows while I could barely pay my rent…. The only true sacrifice I regret making, however, is how often I put people and things that didn’t really matter so much ahead of the people that did – all in the name of theatre.
Above all, I recently gave up more than I could possibly explain for people who could not have mattered less – when I could have gone on a dream vacation with my mom, during what ended up being the last few months of her life.
I will never make that mistake again. It took me a long time to get here, but I finally understand: people are more important than art, and true friends and family are more important than “success” or “acclaim” or anything else in this world.
And no. It wasn’t worth it at all.
Geoffrey Paddy Johnson’s Question
Was there any unexpected discovery made during the development of this production and can you share it with us?
Andrew: I began writing Bubby’s Shadow about six years ago, saw it through a reading, a staged reading and a full production (– and quite a few drafts! –) yet I make discoveries about the piece every day. What has been most fun for me is switching from playwright mode to actor mode, as I am finally playing the role I initially wrote for myself (and finally feel it’s the right time for me to play him)…and looking at this play through “Jonny’s” eyes is quite different than looking at the entire play through the eyes of a writer.
One specific thing that comes to mind is how fun Jonny is to play. Sure, I wrote what I think are funny lines, and I gave the character some silly things to do – but in the rehearsal process (and through Greg Cicchino’s spot-on and smart direction), “being” Jonny is closer to playing a child than the brooding, complex, sad man I thought I was going to play. (Yes – he’s those things too…. But like the play itself, and perhaps several characters in the play, Jonny is as much about light as he is about darkness. After all, I don’t think you can have one without having the other.)
Michelle Augello-Page’s Question
What do you hope the audience receives from the experience of seeing this show?
Andrew: Whatever they get, they get… I don’t mean to sound cheeky. But the piece is filled with a great deal to think about – little nuggets of life versus death, darkness versus light, being a grownup versus being a child (at any age), embracing ones past versus running away from it… Unlike some of my pieces, in which I have a very strong idea of what I want the audience to walk away with, I just want the audience to drink Bubby’s Shadow in and to think on their life as they relate to the various issues. And if one audience member decides to call an estranged friend or relative – or if some element of the production rekindles a resurgence of pride in someone’s heritage or someone’s spiritual awakening – it would be a very sweet icing on a most fulfilling cake.