‘What Life Wants’ Prepares for World Premiere

By: Katherine Gianni

Israeli actor Dror Keren has wowed the performing arts world for more than three decades, acting in dozens of productions in venues across Tel-Aviv, including The Cameri Theatre, Habima Theatre, and Gesher Theatre. On Saturday, March 30, Mr. Keren will trade the main stage for a director’s chair to watch the world premiere reading of his new show, “What Life Wants.”

“I hope to act in the Israeli production,” Mr. Keren said before rehearsal on Tuesday afternoon in the second-floor library of the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies. “But for right now I’m focused on working on the script to make it the best that it can be.”

Two performances are scheduled for Saturday, March 30, at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre on Commonwealth Avenue. Mr. Keren has spent just over a week crafting his script with a group of seven actors and Israeli Stage Founder and Artistic Director Guy Ben-Aharon. The residency will continue until the reading this Saturday, and was made possible by a grant from the Jewish Cultural Endowment, administered by the Elie Wiesel Center.

Mr. Keren explained that a large part of the creative process has been translating the original text from Hebrew to English to make it accessible for American audiences.

“I have Guy with me who is really such an expert in these kinds of rehearsals,” Mr. Keren said of his longtime friend. The two met in Israel over three years ago, but it wasn’t until the international premiere of Mr. Keren’s show, “On The Grill” in June 2018, that they began to discuss an Israeli Stage residency. For this show, Mr. Ben-Aharon has assisted in directing all aspects of the workshop.

“On The Grill” was written and directed by Mr. Keren. The show was awarded Best Original Play at the Israeli Theatre Awards in 2015.
“On The Grill” was written and directed by Mr. Keren. The show was awarded Best Original Play at the Israeli Theatre Awards in 2015.

“He knows Hebrew and English very well, so we had a few discussions on the right words or idioms that should be there for the English version that really say what I want to say,” Mr. Keren said.

And what is it exactly that Mr. Keren wants to say through his new play? He described that the show centers around what he perceives as his greatest personal challenge.

“Parenthood,” he said. “I think the main battles a person experiences in life are within the walls of his home.”

Mr. Keren said the group rehearses for five hours, if not longer, most afternoons—and the outpour of creativity doesn’t end after rehearsals wrap. “Usually I go to Guy’s place to continue working,” he said, smiling. “We have conclusions and things to go over that we noted to ourselves during the rehearsals.”

With one show already sold out, and a second performance filling up quickly, both Mr. Keren and Mr. Ben-Aharon are gearing up for a large audience.

“I hope they will be moved and I hope they identify with the characters,” Mr. Keren said. “I hope my play will reflect other people’s lives because that’s the main reason we’re here: to see yourself.”

Two staged readings of What Life Wants will take place on Saturday, March 30, at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA. The 8:00 pm show is currently sold out. For tickets to the 4:00 pm show time click here.

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