The coronavirus brought an audio recording of the Off-Broadway play “A Walk With Mr. Heifetz” to YouTube.
James Inverne’s play is based on the true-life story of a 1926 visit by famed violinist Jascha Heifetz to British Mandatory Palestine, where he performed in a stone quarry at the Ein Harod kibbutz.
After the concert, Heifetz walked and talked with Yehuda Sharett, the kibbutz movement pioneer and composer and brother to Moshe Sharett, the Zionist leader and later Israel’s second prime minister.
The play deals with the reverberations of that visit on the Sharett brothers and on the creation of Israel, 20 years later.
“It’s a talky kind of play, and I thought the play would have something to say to people,” said Inverne, who is also a music critic. “And it did. The play is so much about now, about art in a kind of isolation.”
Now the play is available in an 85-minute audio recording made under socially distanced conditions among four performers, across four countries.
The cast includes original cast member and Israeli actor Yuval Boim, violinist Mariella Haubs, Broadway star Richard Topol as Moshe Sharett and West End star Ed Stoppard (son of Tom) as Heifetz.
There’s also a Zoom video of Inverne, Boim and Haubs in conversation with Yael Medini, Moshe Sharett’s daughter.
The audio recording and Zoom conversation were made to support two charities, the America Israel Cultural Foundation, which is partially supported by Sharett family funds, and meal provider Meir Panim. While the audio recording will be available for free for several weeks, Inverne is also soliciting contributions.
The play, which ran for six weeks in 2018 at the Off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theater, was written in a flash of inspiration. After contacting the family of Moshe Sharett and meeting them and hearing their stories, Inverne wrote the play in about two weeks.
“It’s about the eternal battle between ego and selflessness when creating art,” Inverne said, “and it’s a way of looking at the creation of state through a conversation about art.”
The Times of Israel