Interview: Emanate Productions’ co-Artistic Directors on The Arc: A Trilogy of New Jewish Plays

The Arc is a world premiere of three brand new short plays by Ryan Craig, Amy Rosenthal and Alexis Zegerman, exploring Birth, Marriage and Death through a distinctly Jewish lens. The Arc shines a contemporary light on the cycle of Jewish life, and what it means to live as a Jew in 2023.

Emanate Productions is a theatre company that focuses on nurturing talent in emerging and established artists of Jewish heritage – platforming urgent, exciting and passionate stories with an integral Jewish soul.

Following on from their sold-out run of at Kiln Theatre in 2022, Emanate are back at Soho Theatre this summer putting contemporary Jewish stories once again on centre stage.

Interview with Emanate Productions’ co-Artistic Directors, Sam Thorpe-Spinks and Dan Wolff, and Associate Producer Tanya Truman – all co-producers of The Arc: A Trilogy of New Jewish Plays

What can you tell us about Emanate Productions?

Sam: Emanate was set up by Dan and me after we left Drama School. We felt the need to create a platform for new Jewish writing with the idea of bringing together established and emerging Jewish artists, in an attempt to bridge the gap between experience and to provide a safe environment to foster exciting and challenging work.

We set this up in a time where antisemitism was on the rise and where there was divisive rhetoric online. We believe it is now increasingly important to provide a platform and space that encourages and supports new Jewish voices.

Dan: It’s about a group of creatives being unapologetically Jewish and not worrying how we might be perceived as ‘Jewish Artists’. It’s not our job to hide away parts of our identity for fear of typecasting/prejudice, that’s for the rest of the industry to work out.

Tell us about The Arc: A Trilogy of New Jewish Plays.

Tanya: The show is made up of 3 brand new short plays, BIRTH, MARRIAGE & DEATH (20-25 mins each), commissioned by Emanate Productions. It’s really unusual to see 3 fully staged, short plays up on stage all in one evening – we are really excited about the concept.

How does it feel to be opening the plays in a world premiere at Soho Theatre?

Sam: We have put together a team of exciting and brilliantly talented creatives, working on three superb plays by some of the countries leading Jewish playwrights, and some of England’s best loved actors. It’s a show for Jews and non-Jews alike and promises to be full of heart and humour. We’re very excited to share this work that’s hopefully entertaining and that will resonate with all audiences.

Dan: It feels a real honour to be taking the work of these wonderful writers to Soho Theatre. We’re really pleased these fantastic writers have trusted us with their new work!

How important are plays like these in spotlighting contemporary Jewish narratives?

Tanya: These plays are important in spotlighting these narratives as the concepts of BIRTH, MARRIAGE & DEATH are explored through a uniquely Jewish lens. It’s important that plays about Jews are not always historical, or about the Holocaust. THE ARC also brings humour to all three of these extraordinary milestones – it’s important to celebrate Jewish stories. There is so much joy to be found in Jewish identity – it doesn’t all have to be about trauma!

Dan: It’s incredibly important to honour our past and remember all that has happened to allow us to be here today, but it’s nice to tell Jewish stories that are not necessarily all about our suffering and misery. We owe Soho Theatre a huge thank you for allowing us the space to do so.

How difficult has it been to get to this point in the production process?

Sam: It’s a project Dan and I have been planning and discussing since we finished our sold out run at the Kiln last year. Since then we brought the wonderful Tanya on board and have been working very hard to get the creative team together. It’s been full of ups and downs, but it’s been a brilliant team effort and we can’t wait to share the spoils of everyone’s hard work. Soho Theatre were extremely accommodating from the get go, and really wanted to help make this work. We’re very grateful to them for giving us the chance and backing to make this happen.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the plays?

Sam: I think above all we want audiences to be entertained and to resonate with the themes which are universal to humanity.

Dan: To keep supporting new work and the theatres that champion it. There are many wonderful theatres in London and around the UK that do so much work to tell new stories and in the current climate they need supporting.

The Arc: A Trilogy of New Jewish Plays is at Soho Theatre from 15 August to 26 August