For me, as thrilling and somehow satisfying as the work was, the best part came afterward: a discussion among the audience, the writers and producers, the cast, and a panel of U-M students representing all of the faiths described. This was truly fascinating. Questions and comments fairly flew. People seemed so grateful to have this unusual forum — rendered somehow safer, perhaps, by the presence of so many fresh-faced, scarily talented teenagers. This seemed to me the point of the evening — a dialogue between people of different faiths (and people for whom faith itself might mean a host of different things). There were comments on obscure points in the Koran or biblical history. One woman said emphatically that the conflict in Israel was "about land," that the focus on the religious aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was "a hole in the play." Others disagreed or offered differently shaded views. The U-M students spoke eloquently about their reactions. I was delighted and astounded to learn from the cast that, for the most part, these kids weren't "playing" their own religions: the girl who sang the Muslim song, for example, so soulfully, so sadly, was Jewish.
The Children of Abraham Project needs to be seen near and far. The Bible Belt comes to mind. Your chance is Monday, March 14, at Washtenaw Community College.
[Originally published in March, 2005.]