As a tribute to her parents, Efrat Livny provides 50 tickets
by Ken Baun, Madison resident
Gretchen and Victor Talbott were feeling very special at the post-play pizza party after seeing Forward Theater Company's "Sons of the Prophet." They were among 50 Goodman Community Center participants who enjoyed the play recently, courtesy of a grant provided by Efrat Livny. "Someone from the Center invited us to join and gave us a brief description of the play, and we didn't hesitate," Gretchen said. "It gave us an opportunity to get away, to laugh, to cry, to be together in something that was so enjoyable. It allowed us to take a deep breath and to feel rejuvenated and not constantly focused on our worries. We feel so fortunate; it touched our hearts and made us feel special."
Efrat had set it,up so that she could both provide significant funding to Forward Theater and enable a number of folks in the community, many of whom had never been to a professional theater, to see this heart-stirring production. Together, Efrat, the GCC and Forward Theater arranged for two groups of25 people to attend the play, and Goodman provided staff, transportation and child care to those who needed it.
The first group, consisting mainly of teens, many from the TEENworks program, saw the play on a Wednesday evening. One of the teens (who prefers to remain anonymous) later had this to say, "It Was an interesting experience. The play brought up significant human suffering, but it managed to be funny. It helped explain the world at large and helped me be able to relate to the world more. I never go to plays, but if I had a choice, I would again."
The second group, consisting mainly of adults, many from the Women of Worthington program, saw the play that Saturday afternoon. A number of them went out to eat after, and Deena Givens, GCC's Parent and Community Engagement Program Manager who works with the Women of Worthington said they appreciated and related to the play and that it also provided a rare and significant bonding experience for them.
The following Monday, several of the participants and a number of staff from both GCC and Forward gathered at Goodman for a pizza party and discussion. The play is an emotionally stirring production, and people were moved and spoke from their hearts. The theater-goers unanimously praised the play and expressed gratitude for the unusual opportunity to see it.
Jennifer Uphoff Gray, director of Forward Theater, offered, "For everyone in the Forward Theater family, this partnership opportunity with the Goodman Community Center has been incredibly meaningful. To have so many first time theater-goers in our audience, thanks to the GCC and the generosity of Efrat Livny, has been both exciting and emotionally moving. It reminds us that theater is at heart a truly democratic art form!"
Becky Steinhoff, GCC director, shared her perspective: "When we learned that Efrat was donating 50 (!) tickets to a Forward Theater play for us to share with people here at the Center; we knew that was a great gift. I'm so glad for our teens that got to see the play. It was pretty adult fare and honestly, it stretched our teens. But that's good. I know most of them have had challenging situations thrown at them, and this play showed adults handling some intense life stressors with humor and honesty. Many of the adults who went saw their own lives mirrored in the art, too. And they simply appreciated the chance to be so richly entertained. It was also special in that for many, it was their first time in the Overture Center and their first time seeing professional theater."
Asked why she did it, Efrat replied, "I love the arts. Growing up in Jerusalem my parents took me to the theater from a very young age and taught me to appreciate it deeply. I did this to honor them. I want to share this love with others, especially those who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity."
In light of the overwhelmingly positive responses, Efrat, the GCC and Forward Theater plan to continue and expand the program in the future.