Some Jewish leaders in Great Britain have complained that the playlet crosses the line into anti-Semitism. It's currently having its premiere at London's Royal Court Theatre, as a nightcap to Marius von Mayenbug's "The Stone," about a German family's guilty concealment of what its members did during the Holocaust.
At Rude Guerrilla, the staged reading of "Seven Jewish Children" will follow the final performance of the company's last regular production, "A Number." Also by Churchill, it concerns a man who has fathered a proliferation of clones.
"It's one of those chances to talk about something that's going on right now," said Dave Barton, the theater's artistic director. "I thought it was very poetic ... and Churchill, like most of the playwrights we do at Rude Guerrilla, is just holding up a mirror and reflecting back what's being said in society. I've heard every argument in there, from both the Jewish and the Palestinian side, and it's always the same thing, back and forth.
"We don't like to question our behavior, especially when we feel God is on our side, and both the Israelis and the Palestinians think that. The questions need to be asked, they need to be continually brought up. I went with my gut, and my gut feeling says it's a nice piece of work, a good play."
Churchill has posted her script for "Seven Jewish Children" on the Royal Court website, with instructions that any theater can perform it without paying royalties, as long as it secures her publisher's OK, agrees not to charge for admission, and takes up a collection for a London-based relief group, Medical Aid for Palestinians.
"Israel has done lots of terrible things in the past, but what happened in Gaza seemed particularly extreme," the 70-year-old playwright (right) told the Guardian last month.
In seven short scenes, "Seven Jewish Children" obliquely traces recent Jewish history, from the Holocaust to last month's invasion aimed at crippling Hamas in Gaza, which had become a launching pad for missiles targeting Israeli civilians. The dialogue consists entirely of Jews debating what they should or shouldn't tell their children about fear, violence and suffering -- their own and the Palestinians'....
See also: Churchill's Play Accused of Anti-Semitism (The Guardian, February 18, 2009)
Caryl Churchill on Why She Was Moved to Write the Play (The Guardian, January 24, 2009)
A Life in Pictures: Caryl Churchill Turns 70 (The Guardian, September 2, 2008)