“Conviction,” written by Israeli playwright Oren Neeman, was a 2008 Denver Center Theatre Company commission and an award winner in Israel— …
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“Conviction,” written by Israeli playwright Oren Neeman, was a
2008 Denver Center Theatre Company commission and an award winner
in Israel— adapted by Ami Dayan and Mark Williams. Neeman’s play is
based on the novel “Confession” by Yonatan Ben-Nachum, a story of
faith and forbidden love during the Spanish Inquisition.
It is now playing at Curious Theatre through July 12, presented
by Maya Productions,
In 1960s Madrid, under the repressive reign of Generalissimo
Franco, an Israeli scholar, Professor Chaim Tal, is caught stealing
a 15th century Inquisition document. He is confined in the office
of a Spanish official, the scholarly director of the National
Archives, who is seeking not only a confession, but an explanation.
“Why this one? The police say you did it for money, but I think you
couldn’t help yourself…”
Tal, played by Robert Mason Ham, refuses to answer and the
frustrated archive director (Michael Shaloub) begins to read from
the Inquisition file: the 1486 confession of one Andres Gonzalez, a
It is written on small wrinkled papers, tucked into a folder
within the neat official document. (The program carries a copy of
an excerpt from that file, including Gonzalez’ signature, as well
as brief but informative historical material about the Spanish
Lights shift across the stage, where Andres (Ami Dayan), a brown
robed priest kneels in front of a confessional, speaking to Father
Juan inside, who is an old friend:
“When I was a priest in Alcabdete, in Talavera, one Sunday, I
was coming to the church to say mass and a farmer approached me— by
the name of Fernand Alonso—” who had seen a woman from a Jewish
household observing the Sabbath as a Jew— an act strictly forbidden
under Isabella and Ferdinand, following a peaceful period of
relative tolerance and cross-cultural exchange between Jews,
Catholics and Moors in Spain.
“It would have been best for me later not to intervene, but I
did,” he continued.
A story unfolds of a beautiful red-haired Jewish woman named
Isabel Marquez (Julie Rada), and the instant mutual attraction
between them, his reconversion to his original Jewish faith, and
their hidden marriage and birth of a son, while he continues to
perform as a priest.
Jews at that time were forced to convert to Christianity if they
wanted to participate in society. They were called Conversos. Those
who did not were expelled in 1492 and that edict remained until
Betrayed by his confessor, he was burned at the stake, as was
Isabel. The fate of the son was unknown… or was it?
Which brings us back to the archives office…
“Conviction,” written with many lyrical passages including lines
from 11th century Spanish Jewish poet Yehuda ha-Levi, is almost
ready for its prime-time introduction.
Scheduled for an off - Broadway engagement in early 2010, it is
co-directed by Jeremy Cole and Ami Dayan. Cole, who now lives in
San Francisco, was a prominent director in Denver some years
See this play for 90 minutes of uninterrupted totally engaging
Conviction” by Oren Neeman plays through July 12 at Curious
Theatre, 1080 Acoma St., Denver- presented by Maya Productions.
PerformTickets: $20, 303-623-0524, www.curioustheatre.org.
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