Michael Halperin schreef 'The Spark of Reason' over Spinoza's herem

Voor wie bij een of ander festival of andere gelegenheid verlegen zit om een toneelstuk:

TV-‘screenwriter’ en dramadocent en – schrijver, Michael Halperin, schreef het toneelstuk The Spark of Reason over Spinoza’s herem. Het stuk is tijdens een workshop in 2000 ontstaan en beleefde toen zijn première.

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles: “ Love, deceit, betrayal and political corruption are all themes coursing through the veins of the heart-racing play, "The Spark of Reason." A sister's revenge can be brutal. Throw in a lover's deception and a teacher's betrayal to the historic 24-year-old Baruch Spinoza's trial for heresy in 1656 -- carried out by the Jewish community in Amsterdam -- and you've got one blisteringly dramatic play. An eclectic cast will rile your deepest emotions in a staged reading written and directed by Michael Halperin, inspired by a true story.”


Inspired by a true story.

In Amsterdam, Holland, 25 year-old Baruch (Benedict) Spinoza battles against the injustice of a so-called republican government that uses fear to destroy civil liberties. His brash speeches and writing raise the fearful specter in his community of the possibility of a new Inquisition. Spinoza’s angry and jealous sister, Rebekah, eager to inherit their father’s business, uses her brother’s passion for social justice and charges him with heresy. The leaders of the community, anxious to avoid the stigma of disloyalty to the state, latch on to her accusation as a tool for ridding themselves of the young troublemaker. Spinoza falls in love with Clara van den Ende, an outspoken, liberated woman who attempts to turn him away from his dogged determination. Failing that, she abandons him to the wrath of his people who wage a devastating battle against Spinoza. His teacher, Saul Levi Morteira, begs him to recant. When the young man refuses, Morteira becomes his chief inquisitor at a trial that will eventually affect society, politics, religion and science.


The Setting 1654-1656. The Jewish district of Amsterdam, Holland. The Despinosa Merchant Shop and the Reading Room of the Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue. Production Note: Suggest that the two sets are on stage simultaneously for action to flow from one to the other seamlessly.


The Cast
·         BARUCH (BENTO) SPINOZA: Mid-20s. A Spanish Jew born in Amsterdam, Holland. Spinoza is erudite with a sense of humor and a strong awareness of justice. He can be both naive and sophisticated.

·         GABRIEL DE SPINOZA: Bento’s younger brother. Although practical, he admires his brother.

·         REBEKAH DE CACERES: In her late 30s, but looks older. Hard lines etch her face. A woman who barely hides her bitterness toward Bento for perceived injustices. Married to Samuel de Caceres whom she views as weak and ineffectual.

·         DAVID OSORIO: Middle-aged wealthy merchant. His life is determined by his experiences before he escaped the Inquisition in Spain and he is determined not to lose all he has gained.

·         DIRCK KERKERINCK: One of Bento’s best friends and in love with Clara Van Den Enden. The son of a Dutch banker, he joined Bento’s circle against his father’s wishes. Dirck wears peasant clothes, but has the noblesse oblige of the wealthy.

·         CLARA VAN DEN ENDEN: An attractive 18-year-old Dutch woman. Liberated, enlightened, intelligent daughter of Bento’s Latin teacher.

·         ABRAHAM PEREIRA: Middle-aged wealthy merchant whose family came from Spain. Devout and always worried that the Inquisition will spill into Holland.

·         RABBI ISAAC DA FONSECA: 60s/70s. The wise leader of the Spanish-Portuguese Jewish community. He sees his role as protecting his community from destruction by outside forces. ·         SAMUEL DE CACERES: Rebekah’s powerless and emasculated husband. In the end, he will do exactly as she tells him.

·         RABBI SAUL LEVI MORTEIRA: 60s. Bento’s former teacher. A sage who sees what the future may hold for Bento and the community.

[Van hier]

Michael Halperin
teaches screenwriting and broadcasting at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He holds a BA Degree in Communications and a Ph.D. in Film Studies.
worked on staff at Universal and was Executive Story Consultant at 20th Century-Fox Television. His writing credits include numerous long-running television shows.

Zie verder bij Jewish-Theatre.com

Op 13 november 2008 is een praatje van Halperin over drama-schrijven op YouTube gebracht met het bijschrijft:
Michael Halperin, Ph. D., television writer, screenwriting instructor and former Executive Story Consultant for 20th Century Fox Television discusses his book Writing the 2nd Act.