Visit nytheater now, NYTE's new site about indie theater in NYC, for in-depth coverage of new American plays.

Check out Indie Theater Now, NYTE's digital theater library, to discover and explore new American plays for study, production, audition material, and more.

Loading

The Thirteenth Commandment

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Joshua H. Cohen
March 26, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Playwright.

What is your show about?
A history teacher, to encourage debate and foster critical thinking, tells his class that the Holocaust didn't happen.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
A good play should knock you on your ass and pull you back up again. If you're not going to leave thinking or feeling something you hadn't thought or felt before, why go? My favorite shows are the ones that take a political or philosophical conundrum, and make it emotionally alive in the real-world experience of the audience.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
Dozens, or hundreds, or even thousands of people sit in a room. It is dark. It is quiet. On one end of the room, stand one or more other people. They are in light. They tell a story. At any given moment, any one of those people -- in the dark or in the light -- could ruin the whole thing. They could call the babysitter, or shout lewd limericks, or give away the ending. But they don't. I consider this one of the major miracles of modern civilization.

Do you think the audience will talk about your show for 5 minutes, an hour, or way into the wee hours of the night?
My mother-in-law first saw a reading of this play two years ago, and she's still arguing about it with me. If this show doesn't get you talking, it's because you have nothing to say.

Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
They're all Jews.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Try to look at the McCarthy blacklist without filtering it through the lens of "The Crucible". Try to imagine (and despair) the state of AIDS policy without "Angels in America" or "The Normal Heart". If you accept that real societal change happens one mind changed at a time, then there is no better tool for that than live theater.