Ohio-born Toby Klein Greenwald lives in Gush Etzion today with her family, and is actively involved in communications, education, poetry writing, photography and theater. Toby's Israeli theatrical career began when she taught drama to traumatized Tsfat youngsters after the 1974 massacre in Ma'alot in which 22 Israeli schoolchildren from Tsfat were murdered by terrorists.
In 2001, during the second Intifada, she was one of the founders of the Gush Etzion-based "Raise Your Spirits Theater” group, in which capacity she directs and co-authors original biblical musicals performed before sold-out 'for women only ' audiences.
A few years earlier, she was one of the co-founders of WholeFamily.com, an award-winning website based on short family dramas and advice, that eventually morphed into the “Dor l’Dor” psychological theater troupe. She has also directed theater projects with at-risk youngsters, and with high school students from Gush Katif following the 2005 destruction of their communities. She has received several awards for contributions to educational Jewish theater.
Now, a new and personal challenge has led Toby to embark on another mission for the Playback Na'na Dance Troupe she established. Arutz Sheva interviewed her on the troupe and its contribution to the many physical and emotional difficulties faced by women with cancer.
Arutz Sheva: When was the Playback Na'na troupe formed?
Toby Klein Greenwald: I founded Playback Na'na, comprised of women actresses who are also dancers, about ten years ago, during an exciting period teaching the Playback method in the Institute for Training Expressive Art Therapists at the Jerusalem College for Women (Michlala).
Playback is a method in which the audience members tell their stories and the actors “play them back” through improvisation. The actors are very intuitive and sensitive. All of our Na'na actresses and our pianist have also worked in the areas of education or therapy.
One semester, I was asked to teach Playback in the dance/movement therapy department, (in addition to the psychodrama stream), where I witnessed the added benefit of dance movement in Playback. Before founding “Na’na” I had spent five years at Playback Gush Etzion (now renamed “Hadran Alach”), starting as their trainer and going on to act. At Playback Na'na, we were the first group of women performing only for women. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/138582219619778)
A7: Where - and for whom - will you be performing in the near future?
T.G. Our next performance is for women who have had to cope with cancer or who are coping with cancer at the present time. It is also intended for women who have the BRCA gene that increases the likelihood of their developing cancer of the breast.
We will be at "El Halev,” 2 Poalei Tzedek (across from Canyon Hadar), Jerusalem, on February 25nd at 7 p.m.
The performance will be in Hebrew but I will translate into English as necessary. Our actresses are bi-lingual.
A7: Who is helping support this performance?
T.G. We are working together with the Yuri Stern Holistic Center for cancer patients, established in memory of MK Yuri Stern who died of the disease. As a recent cancer patient, I personally experienced how much holistic therapists help in coping with the disease and, I believe, contribute to the healing.
"El Halev" offered special terms for hosting us in light of the performance's importance.
Our entire staff – actresses, pianist, and moderator – me – will perform on a volunteer basis. Proceeds will be donated to the Yuri Stern Center and to El Halev.
A7:Where else have you appeared?
T. G. We have performed for “regular” audiences, and also for audiences of women facing special challenges. For example, we performed at the Tahel Conference several years ago. Tahel is an organization that helps people who have suffered abuse. We performed for the women of Sderot during the traumatic period during which their town was the object of thousands of rockets launched from Gaza, and at the Bat Melech Shelter for religious women who have suffered from violence at home. We have performed for “at-risk” teenaged girls.
We performed with "Dance on Wheels" the Jerusalem troupe that includes wheelchair-bound women performers as well as others.
To us, bringing the therapeutic value of theater to those who need it is a sacred mission.
A7: Tell us how the performance can help women with cancer:
T.G. Any person coping with a disease or other trauma has a story to tell. When I told my personal stories to our actresses and saw how they succeeded in raising my spirits and in mirroring what I went through – with humor and sensitivity – I felt first-hand how much power this medium has and how it helps enhance the recovery process. This is my way, and my actresses have joined me in this mission, of “paying forward” the chesed, kindness, I received during that challenging time of my life.
I hope that women who need a performance like this one will join us at Beit "El Halev" on February 25th at 7p.m. Doors open at 6:45 PM. Tickets are NIS 30.
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