I am writing these words while visiting the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston. I am sitting here in a beautiful spot where you can look out the big glass windows and watch the harbor. It is cold outside but very warm inside. There is a magical atmosphere here. I think about how one year ago the museum was closed and how sad it is to be a closed museum. I try to imagine how the artworks themselves felt. Did anyone come to see how they were doing from time to time? Did anyone dust them? Did the artworks feel lonely without audience to look at them?

It makes me think, is art considered an art even if it has no viewers? Am I still an actress if my theater props are in the warehouse? The magic of the theater is in the live encounter between people. Does the heart of theatrical encounter still beat when you watch it from your home computer?

In the past year, I have created many shows for young audiences on Zoom. I have loved it. Since we were in quarantine and I could not meet people, I was very excited to meet children and their parents through the computer. I did not have to drive with all my theater sets, get stuck in traffic jams or find a babysitter. In many ways, it was easier than performing live. Performing from the comfort of my own home was a great solution and I am still thankful for it. But, slowly, the longing for a human theatrical encounter grew more and more. I missed getting out of the house, dealing with the real life, with the traffic jam, with the babysitter. I missed hearing children laughing during the show or the hugs they would give me after the show was over. My house is my protection, but now more than ever, I realize that feeling of home for me is also when I go out, when I meet people and communities, out in the fresh air or in the audience of a crowded show.

I feel that this period of time has caused us to distance from other people. Encounters have become frightening, threatening even. The truth is, I feel that the more we move away from others, the more we start to move away from ourselves.

I moved to Cambridge from Israel six months ago, and I am slowly learning to live in a different place, with a different culture, different food, different language. For example, I am writing this text first in Hebrew before I translate it to English. I am sure I will need some help translating it. This is new for me, asking for help writing a text. I am in a new place, in a new home, and I am learning to ask for help and to be more vulnerable.

During the Community Creative Fellowship, I plan to create a theater capstone piece around the themes of “belonging,” “home” and “foreignness.” These themes have interested me from a very young age, and I feel that now they are more relevant than ever. The fellowship is an opportunity to belong, to meet new people, to make friendships, listen to people and create with them.

I am fascinated to hear what participants have to say. I think the themes of home and belonging are themes that many people deal with all the time. I would like to hear from you: What feels like home to you? Is it an individual feeling or is it related to being part of a community? I am curious to hear stories about objects in your houses. Objects often have a history and I would like to see you create images around the theme of home. What kind of objects do you have in your house that make you feel that you belong? Are they part of a family tradition or perhaps an object that you got from someone you love?

I wish to myself that I could give from my knowledge and my theater experience. I hope that together we will better understand what home means to us and what it means to be a part of community. I wish to myself that my show will be inspired by these interactions with you.

As part of my artistic research, I started having one-on-one meetings. I am looking for people who want to meet me and talk about the theme of home and belonging. We can meet in person or online, or I can send you a list of questions by email. I want to hear your stories, from the funny to sad, around those themes. Email me at rotemgol@gmail.com.

This new year already has many question marks around meetings in person. I wish to myself and to others that we will insist to look each other in the eye.

In recent years, whenever I go on stage, I imagine that the show starts with Tfilat Haderech, the traveler’s prayer. While in reality it has never happened (maybe this time it finally will), before I go on stage, I say this prayer to bless the audience and myself.

I bless us with a magical journey and fruitful meetings, and I end these words with the traveler’s prayer:

May it be Your will, God, our God and the God of our fathers, that You should lead us in peace and direct our steps in peace, and guide us in peace, and support us in peace, and cause us to reach our destination in life, joy, and peace [if one intends to return immediately, one adds: and return us in peace]. Save us from every enemy and ambush, from robbers and wild beasts on the trip, and from all kinds of punishments that rage and come to the world. May You confer blessing upon the work of our hands and grant me grace, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us, and bestow upon us abundant kindness and hearken to the voice of our prayer, for You hear the prayers of all. Blessed are You God, who hearkens to prayer.

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