The Braid’s “Uncovered” Filled With Emotion and Authenticity
Discovery takes center stage at The Braid’s latest salon show.
“Uncovered,” curated, adapted and directed by The Braid’s current NEXT Emerging Artist’s Fellowship, shares ordinary people’s moments of revelation through 11 true stories and a song.
“I love that “uncovered” or “cover” has so many applications,” NEXT Coordinator Andrew Fromer told the Journal. “We can uncover a mystery, we can take the cover off of food sitting in Tupperware, we can take cover from harm.”
At its core, Fromer said, “Uncovered” is synonymous with discovery, as learning and evolving are essential parts of being human.
“I hope that people will see this show and from every day forward, their eyes can open a little wider, so they can be just a little more open to discover more and more about themselves and the loved ones around them,” he said.
And discovery is at its core of the NEXT Fellowship, which provides professional development, networking opportunities and a platform for Jewish creatives in their 20s and 30s.
This year’s group of NEXT generation artists, Vanessa Li Bloom, Ariella Blum-Lemberg, Zoë Mann and Makena Metz, as well as the show’s directors Lee Hannah Conrads, Leilah Franklin and Talya Camras, spent nine months creating “Uncovered.” The NEXT fellows are mentored by The Braid’s Daphna Shull, Susan Morgenstern and Ronda Spinak, and led by Fromer, who has overseen the NEXT program for four years, after being a Fellow himself for two of them.
“Uncovered” is Fromer’s NEXT swan song, as he is moving onto a new role at The Braid as digital manager.
Fromer, who also runs youth engagement at Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, first discovered The Braid (then known as Jewish Women’s Theatre) in 2015.
“I showed up to songlead at my synagogue to find that my classroom/chapel was being taken over by a woman I had never seen before,” Fromer said of Spinak, who had been setting up for a performance. She asked Fromer about himself, and if he was an actor, so he gave her his headshot and resume and they went their separate ways.
“About a year later, at a time in my acting career where I was working on developing my production skills, an email came across my inbox, [with the] subject line: ‘Are you a young Jewish artist interested in developing your production skills?’ It was a call for applications to the first NEXT council. Clearly meant to be.”
The “Uncovered” stories, performed by Ronit Gilbert-Aranoff, Marshall Bennett, Avita Broukhim and Heidi Mendez, are varied, and range from dramatic and emotional to humorous.
For instance, in “Fake Jew” by Makena Metz, despite Makena having a bat mitzvah and going to High Holy Day services, Makena’s non-Jewish mom continually attacks Makena’s identity by calling her a “fake Jew.” Finally, Makena finds a creative way to stand up for herself.
In David Chiu’s “A Natural All,” David, his Chinese immigrant dad and Jewish-American mom “find themselves caught in a cruise ship elevator with a racist woman. But the racist woman has picked on the wrong family.”
“If the Torah portions are meant to be a weekly lens through which we see our changing world and then learn and grow in response, the stories we tell at The Braid are daily, hourly, minute-by-minute ways for us to constantly learn and grow as human beings.” – Andrew Fromer
For Fromer, “If the Torah portions are meant to be a weekly lens through which we see our changing world and then learn and grow in response, the stories we tell at The Braid are daily, hourly, minute-by-minute ways for us to constantly learn and grow as human beings.” He said that “working on these inspiring Jewish stories has allowed me to see the world through this kaleidoscopic Jewish lens that creates an infinitely diverse way of experiencing the world around us. And it happens in more than just three dimensions for me, now that I live with all these stories.”
NEXT and The Braid have shown Fromer that storytelling is a mitzvah.
“We bring joy through entertainment, we debunk stereotypes, we fight loneliness by bringing common experiences to light.” – Andrew Fromer
“We bring joy through entertainment, we debunk stereotypes, we fight loneliness by bringing common experiences to light,” he said. “And all of this brings us closer to a semi-utopian world where we treat our neighbors as ourselves.”
“Uncovered” will be performed in person in various Southern California locations and live on Zoom from June 16 to June 26. For details and tickets, visit the-braid.org/uncovered.