By Stephanie Liss
May 5 – 14, 2014
On Holy Ground is a combination of two one-act plays by Stephanie Liss, performed together and linked by a common theme.
Daughter of My People examines the life of Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadassah. This is the story of a woman – an older woman – deeply in love for the first time with a much younger man. This is her journey through the awakening of her womanhood and her womanliness in a time when women were not allowed to be productive parts of society. It is the story of the Jewish state of Israel.
The second, Jihad, examines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the stories of two mothers: an Israeli Orthodox mother living in a settlement, and a Hamas mother living in Gaza. This is set in the present day in the Middle East, a land where nothing changes yet nothing stays the same.
Together the stories rise from the land, a land that never changes, a land that endures. It is the land of the Jewish state.
Stephanie Liss researched this play by going underground with the PLO, Hamas and other terrorist groups and well as with the IDF. Born and raised in New York City, her family moved to Los Angeles while she was in high school. She went wback to New York – eventually attenting the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She graduated from the theatre program, and moved back out to Los Angeles, where she began her writing career almost immediately. Although it took almost six years to have a movie for television made, she is proud that the first time she ever saw her name on screen was for Second Serve – the Renee Richards Story. Following Second Serve, came David – for which she was nominated for both an Emmy and a Writers Guild Award, Hidden In Silence, for which she won the Writers Guild Award and the Berlin Film festival for best television film, and a host of other television movies. She has testified before congress on behalf of issues about which she has written television movies, and researches her work extensively. All of Stephanie’s plays are not only Jewish in orientation and theme, but through her films, there is always the thread of Torah, somewhere. Stephanie moves back and forth between television and theatre, but theatre is her heart, soul, and first love, and bringing Judaism to the stage in her plays, actually makes her heart sing.
LA Times calls On Holy Ground “admirable and daunting in its directness.” TotalTheater.com calls it “a joy to behold,” and Goldstar says it’s “a unique look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, bringing the stories of 3 women into sharp focus.”
Photos by Ron Goldman