Lawrence Toppman

Jewish plays go head to head, and you pick the winner

CHARLOTTE – Now that the Charlotte Jewish Film Festival has established a national presence, can live theater be far behind? J Stage, a program of Levine Jewish Community Center, hopes not.

It’ll host the first Charlotte Jewish Playwrighting Contest as part of the national Jewish Plays Project – and you can see pieces of the three finalists and vote on the winner.

Charlotte is one of seven communities participating in this year’s national contest. (The others are Chicago, Hartford, Fairfax, Va., New York, Palo Alto, Cal., and Philadelphia). The national JPP office culled 10 finalists from 219 submissions; in Charlotte, 21 readers narrowed those 10 finalists to three. A long scene from each of those will be performed April 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Gorelick Hall at Shalom Park. Tickets are $10 at or 704.366-5007.

In Mark Leiren-Young’s “Bar Mitzvah Boy,” a grandfather finds new purpose through ritual, while a rabbi struggles to find her way after a tragedy. Gina Stevensen’s “Book of Esther” is about a 17-year-old who grew up in a loving Orthodox home and now senses a larger world outside her own; the appearance of mythical Queen Esther makes her question the strictures of her community. In Bridget Erin’s “Sonata for Four Hands,” a mother and her surrogate daughter (once the love interest of the woman’s son) deal with the grief of the son’s death as a military policeman in Israel.

Toppman: 704-358-5232