david 2 (unguided awareness). MERKAVA JEWISH THEATER (MJT). DIRECTOR: FRANKLYN WEPNER. The performer in this video is (lawyer) David Schwartz. In this "MJT TRAINING" series of videos I am demonstrating how Gestalt Therapy work on awareness, dreams and personal relationships can serve as a foundation for releasing creativity in performers (actors, dancers, singers) and others. The roots of their personality that people discover in Gestalt work are seeds or essences that then can be expanded into physical and vocal expressions, and these, in turn, can be refined into artistic forms suitable for creative work for the performing arts in particular and for life in general . Writers, visual artists, spiritual searchers and others also can use these creative seeds as a source of grounding for their lives and their work.
Since I developed this way of combining Gestalt Therapy with performer training in 1975 in New York City, I have done this in depth process with about 630 people, most of whom were performers or spiritual searchers. Over the years I have used various labels as the name of my process and the name of the company of actors I was working with at the time. For a while the name was "Nomos Life Lab", then "Gestalt Theater of Philadelphia", and when I immigrated to Israel in 1981 I selected the name "Merkava Jewish Theater", since the foundation of my work is to train a performer to serve as a vessel or chariot (Hebrew: merkava) of the spirit. In 1985 I printed out a summary of most of the work flow exercises, with the title "Merkava Theater Syllabus". I notice on the net that since 2007 another group also has been using the name "Merkava Theater" in London. I wish them great success, but I want to stress that I have no connection with that group at all. During the 30 years I have been in Israel I have had studios in Tel Aviv and in several neighborhoods of Jerusalem. For a while I taught acting in the Theater Department at Tel University. Since 2008 my studio has been in my home in the West Bank settlement "Adam", a 10 minute bus ride from the "Pisgat Z'ev" northern suburb of Jerusalem. Since 1982 I have had in informal relationship with the Diaspora Yeshiva of Jerusalem, where the Rebbe Mordecai Goldstien has been very supportive of my work. At Diaspora Yeshivah I have worked with about 60 men and women so far. But his in only a loose affiliation, since I am not very orthodox myself. That is to say, I do not limit myself to working only with men, and I do not limit myself to themes suitable for an orthodox mindset. For many years I have thought of myself as having a left foot that is a leftist avant garde theater director and a right foot that is a rightist meshugenah hassidic zionist rebbe. Even today I find that self image appropriate - even though I have no rabbi credentials at all. I encourage students to arrive for a day or two of workshops combining personal on-on-one Gestalt Therapy, group performer training exercises, class theory discussions based on philosophical and Torah sources, and ensemble work on various creative projects that I hope will lead to theater productions which we then will present at various locations in Israel or perhaps internationally. My budget at the moment is my small VA pension for the old and decrepit from the USA, but recently my ship has been sighted on the horizon and is expected to dock shortly, loaded with fame and fortune! Little of that will come from my students, since for now anyone who allows me to video his/her work for the net gets to work for free.
This series of videos begins with a general description of the process, and then zeros in on demonstrations of work with particular individuals, some of whom are performers and others who while not thinking of themselves as performers have made a decision to develop their creative powers through plumbing the depths of their life by means of the tools available in this process. Of course, any in depth personal search for truth in life relates directly to the spiritual search that occupies religiously inclined people, and so it should be obvious why a certain percentage of time in these videos is devoted to showing parallels between these therapeutic and creative processes and similar themes explored in Jewish religious texts, especially (1) "Likutei Moharan" (collected essays) of Nachman of Breslav, (2) the "Introduction To The Zohar" of Yehuda Ashlag, (3) the "Tanya" of Schneur Zalman, and (4) the "Guide For he Perplexed" of Moses Maimonides.
A general goal of this workshop series is to move gradually towards a finished theatrical product, which then will be presented as part of this series of videos. But while an artistic product would be desirable, more important for this project is the training process itself. Therefore, the process you are viewing here already is the primary product, and the final performance is only a secondary result, Like the icing on a cake. An earlier video which had similar goals is "Awareness Work With Bel Baca". That two hour demo video of 2006 really should be regarded as part of this same series of training videos. That video and the present 2012 videos all will be found at my "franklynwepner.com" website. The theory part of these videos is presented in a series of essays which I also have put on that website. In addition, on that website you will find (1) many videos I made of my own dreamwork, (2) my own original musical shows on Jewish topics, and (3) my retelling of traditional Jewish stories with an original musical accompaniment.
So far on the franklynwepner.com website there are about 30 hours of videos and 1500 pages of essays. Overall, there is quite a wide range of offerings in the videos. Some of them are intended as simple light enterainment, while others are uncompromising forays into the depths of inner space, going as far as the therapy, performing, philosophical and religious tools - along with our courage, intellect and motivation - will take us.
TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD ALL OF MY VIDEOS, PLUS 1500 PAGES OF MY EXPLANATORY ESSAYS (ALL AT NO CHARGE) PLEASE VISIT MY WEBSITE: franklynwepner.com. ALSO PLEASE NOTE MY NEW EMAIL ADDRESS, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH ME ANY COMMENTS ABOUT MY WORK: firstname.lastname@example.org. IN THE LISTING OF VIDEOS THE LETTERS (HQ) REFER TO A HIGHER QUALITY VERSION OF THE VIDEO, WHICH IS AVAILABLE TO YOU IF YOUR COMPUTER CAN HANDLE IT. ALL OF MY VIDEOS IN THEIR ORIGINAL UN-BUTCHERED FORM ALSO ARE AVAILABLE AT VIMEO.COM. CHOPPED UP VERSIONS OF MOST OF THEM CAN BE FOUND ON JEWTUBE, YOUTUBE, METACAFE AND MYSPACE. THE ESSAYS ARE ONLY ON MY OWN WEBSITE.