Barrington Stage Offers “Bashir Lazhar,” American Premiere of an Unorthodox Play [Berkshire on Stage]

Juri Henley-Cohn plays the teacher, Bashir Lazhar.
Juri Henley-Cohn plays the teacher, Bashir Lazhar.

Talking with Julie Boyd, we reviewed the Barrington Stage summer slate of shows for 2013. Most were obviously good solid choices, but I just wanted to blurt out that I had my doubts about Bashir Lazhar drawing an audience. After all it’s not exactly On The Town or Much Ado About Nothing (also on their schedule) which people are familiar and comfortable with. It is rather, a Canadian play about a French Algerian political refugee, and not just a little off the beaten track. Everyone knows Boyd doesn’t pick duds. So I asked her to talk about it.

Julie Boyd said simply: “It’s wonderful. Not only as a play but also because Juri Henley-Cohn is such a fabulous actor. It’s a show we did a staged reading of last year, and it is a story I have absolutely fallen in love with. I think the movie Monsieur Lazhar was wonderful, and this is just a different kind of subject for the theatre. I am attracted to people who enter new worlds and how they deal with it. Immigrants like Lazhar are often unprepared for the realities of their new life.

“What makes this interesting is that as they are learning, we are learning, too. It’s a wonderful journey that Bashir Lazhar takes,” explained Boyd. “We’ve also gone ahead and commissioned an original score for this, and with the immensely talented and imaginative Shakina Nayfack at the helm, and the set, lights and production that is planned, it will end up being kind of magical.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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