Man tied to a chair, woman with arm brace lying prone.

Composer Dan Plonsey and CSUEB alumni Amy LaFaille.

Students, alumni, faculty create Jewish Music Festival piece

  • June 28, 2010 2:30pm

Theatre and dance students will be among those performing “Dan Plonsey’s Bar Mitzvah” in the 25th Jewish Music Festival at the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco. The show previews at 7 p.m. July 8 with an introduction and post-performance discussion led by dance pioneer Anna Halprin; the premier performances will be at 1 and 4 p.m. July 11, all at 736 Mission St., San Francisco.

Eric Kupers, assistant professor of theatre and dance, is director and choreographer of the interdisciplinary piece that interweaves new music, inclusive dance, devised theater, live video and explorations of contemporary ritual. Mantra Plonsey wrote the piece, and Dan Plonsey created the music. 

Like many American Jews of his generation, composer Dan Plonsey was not raised within a context of traditional ritual, and his 13th year passed without a bar mitzvah. 

When his son began to prepare for his own bar mitzvah, Plonsey was inspired to join his son by preparing for his own, and to create a musical theater piece about the experience. The resulting work asks profound questions about the goals, meaning, and expectations of traditional ritual in a post-modern world.

The piece is part of the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s “Reinventing Ritual” exhibit. It is supported in part by the East Bay Community Foundation – Fund for Artists, the Zellerbach Family Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and numerous individual donors.

Admission will be $18 for members and $22 general. Tickets may be purchased at or by calling 510-848-0237, Ext. 11.


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