Tag Archives: Coffee with Vera

Vera’s ‘popping up’ in the Plymouth Fringe

Coffee With Vera

May 29 @ 6:30pm7:30pm & May 30th @ 2pm- 3pm

 

Ruth Mitchell

Venue: Plymouth Synagogue
Running time: 45-60 minutes
Recommended age: 12+

Coffee with Vera is a performance inspired by 1960s coffee mornings created by gathering stories from the oldest Ashkenazi Synagogue in continuous use in the English-speaking world; the Plymouth synagogue.

The character of Vera Jockleson co-hosts a coffee morning with Ruth and recounts how this form of social gathering was a monthly fund raiser for the Ladies Guild. Through Vera we hear of past events and stories whilst at the same time Ruth tries to connect her own history to the place by searching for her (possible) Jewish relatives.

A leading actor for 25 years, in 1993 Ruth created the role of Helga, a German Jewish mother in the Verity Bargate award winning play Kindertransport by Diane Samuels. The assumption that she was a Jewish actor gave her the impetus in 2013 to look for those cultural connections.

Awarded the Intellect postgraduate award in 2013 and the 2014 Wildfire Critics Choice Award at Exeter Ignite, Coffee with Vera now returns to its spiritual home.

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Writing workshop @LyricBridport

I will be facilitating a workshop at the Lyric Bridport called…

Starting to Write using Site and Autobiography.

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Come and find out how your own stories can kick start your writing; I will be using anecdote, memory, songs, place and even gossip to help create the first steps of your text.

My shows have always been inspired by site, my first Coffee with Vera took place inside a synagogue and won the Wildfire Critics Choice award at the 2014 Exeter Ignite Festival.

My second, Homeward Bound commissioned by Theatre West, is inspired by a baseball diamond within my local park in Plymouth and received a five star review from Exeunt.

Lets find out how to create multiple stories that all lead back to place.

Where: The Lyric Bridport, 10am-1pm, Saturday 9th July. Price £20

 

Coffee with Vera returns to the Plymouth Synagogue

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When I first performed Coffee with Vera it was inside the vestry of the Plymouth Synagogue. My decision to use the vestry rather than the synagogue was twofold. The synagogue can be accessed through an appointment to view with a guided tour, conducted by the caretaker. It can be considered a performance in itself, which gives a particular reading of the site. This is very much a male dominated space where the men perform the service and the women are seated upstairs away from the males. This is, according to Rabbi Aaron Moss, so that both male and female can focus on their prayer away from the opposite sex, an opportunity to be with your ‘true self, to communicate with your soul’ (Chabad.org: online). Roberta Mock states that ‘women were (and still, in traditional Judaism, are) “exempt” (that is, excluded) from most religious learning, prayer, and ritual’ (Mock, 2007:2). Secondly, the vestry is a lived in space; the building houses two flats, one for a rabbi and one for a caretaker and there is a kitchen to make refreshments. ‘Women’s sphere of influence is defined exclusively in halacha, or Jewish law, as “domestic affairs”’ (Mock, 2007:2).

For the next three weeks I will be performing Coffee with Vera within the Plymouth History Festival and I have been asked to perform within the synagogue itself so apart from the Saturday (when I will be in the vestry for the Sabbath) I will be performing within what I consider a male space. Will this change the performance? I have no idea but it will be interesting to find out.

Mock, Roberta (2007) Jewish Women on Stage, Film and Television. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

COFFEE WITH VERA
Saturday 9 May, 3pm to 4pm (in the vestry)
Tuesday 12 May, 11am to 12pm (synagogue)
Sunday 17 May, 11am to 12pm (synagogue)
Tuesday 19 May, 7pm to 8pm (synagogue)
Synagogue Chambers, Catherine Street, Plymouth, PL1 2AD
Watch Ruth Mitchell’s award winning performance of ‘Coffee with Vera’ in the Plymouth Synagogue, followed by coffee and cake in the Vestry with “Vera” herself.
Admission is free. Donations are welcome. Booking is essential via 07753 267616 or phccaretaker@yahoo.co.uk