ReTD: Find Your Own Adventure

Dec 23, 2019
by Avram / MNHTN

By Sandy Sahar Gooen


A Jewish Artist Coming Up In 2019: My Perspective After The Base Artist-in-Residence Fellowship


My authentic Judaism is actually synthetic. What do I mean by that?


I do not mean to say that is fake by any means. But it is carved by coming to a synthesis of things that might always seem like a good fit (a dialectic, rather than a dichotomy which would keep them apart, which is what I thought I’d have to do forever, and it made me MISERABLE trying).  


My Judaism is both inextricable from who I am/my art and has also changed because of it.


I got more clarity on this during my BASE fellowship. 


I reflected on Jewish artists and  other important Jewish American figures that I admire and a lot of them had to compartmentalize themselves, whereas I have sort of arrived at the conclusion that you get the weird gemishte (blended) package of a human, one human who contains A LOT, should you invite me into a space.


Me and a fellow fellow even talked about it once- how Jewish theatre by and large is either turned inward to just Jewish people or it is made SO pedestrian it is like Judaism lite ™. The way to be synthetic but authentic for me at least is accessibility rather than palatability. 


I define my work, my life, and my Judaism with the term redefining the derech (path/road) There are traditional paths I have seen forged ahead of me and yet none of them were a good match so I’ve had to sort of navigate a new way. It’s very scary, and exhilarating all at once. 

I think Liz Swados captures it amazingly for me, despite having a completely different context for it in her song “Lonesome of the Road” from the 1979 musical, Runaways: “I’ve got my road map. I’ve got advice from my good friends. I’ve got my head clear, but that’s not where the struggle will end. And in my own time I’ll find my answers in the lonesome of the road.”


I’m so grateful to Avram and the cohort for the chance to learn and work these past several months. The journey is far from over!


Sandy Sahar Gooen (He/Him) is a writer, advocate, and performing artist. He was a 2019 BASE MNHTN Artist-in-Residence Fellow.