“Love Sick,” the musical play inspired by the biblical Song of Songs that debuted in the Bay Area last winter, has won the 2018 Will Glickman Award, Theater Bay Area announced Jan. 24. The annual $4,000 prize honors the best new play to premiere in the Bay Area.
Conceived, written and performed by Israeli-born actress Ofra Daniel, a Berkeley resident, with an ensemble cast of world-music performers and dancers, “Love Sick” places the ancient Hebrew sacred texts in a story of unrequited love set in modern Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, although its mood and message are universal.
“It’s a big story for me personally, as an Israeli immigrant from a small town outside Tel Aviv,” Daniel told J. “I’m not performing Arthur Miller or another well-known playwright, but something I’ve written from my own roots. I’m gratified by the appreciation for Jewish culture.”
Daniel wrote the original music for the play with San Francisco-based world musician Lior Ben-Hur. The company included celebrated musician Ali Paris, who spent his childhood in Ramallah and has collaborated with such artists as Alicia Keys, Bobby McFerrin and Quincy Jones, and Syrian percussionist Faisal Zedan, an East Bay resident.
The production was directed by Christopher Renshaw with musical direction by the L.A.-based Israeli composer Yuval Ron.
Jewish Circle Theatre produced the play in association with John Gertz Productions of Berkeley. It had its world premiere at the Osher Studio in Berkeley in January 2017, followed by a monthlong run at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.
The Glickman Award, established in 1984, is named after playwright Will Glickman, who died in 1983. Bay Area theater critics Lily Janiak (San Francisco Chronicle), Karen D’Souza (San Jose Mercury News), Jean Schiffman (San Francisco Examiner) and Sam Hurwitt (Bay Area News Group and Marin Independent Journal) chose this year’s winner.
“We were quite shocked to hear we’d won — we didn’t even know ‘Love Sick’ had been nominated,” Daniel said.
“Normally it is the big production companies that get this award, so I think it’s quite extraordinary for such a small company to get it. More than the money, it’s the acknowledgement of the professional community that is most significant to us — the fact that people truly get it.”
Gertz and Daniel staged several well-received readings of “Love Sick” in New York in November, eliciting theatrical interest. The Glickman Award will likely bolster interest in the play. Gertz said plans include “returning to the stage in the San Francisco Bay Area, another production in a well-regarded regional theater outside of the Bay Area, and taking the show on to New York.”