My Play Candlesticks.

Autumn is approaching. Technically it`s already here. There are only five stories left from my collection that need further editing – by me, that is, before I send them all off to Peter Gimpel, of Red Heifer Press, who has come up with a great idea for a cover illustration.

Meanwhile this arrived. A message from the team at Jewish Renaissance, in honour of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the publication of the book, Age of Confidence.

“This month marks the Jewish New Year, but also our 20th anniversary celebrations! To kick off a year of special events, we’re releasing a book. Age of Confidence: The New Jewish Culture Wave comprises five essays by experts in their fields that cover Jewish culture over the last two decades in a period that spans the attacks on New York’s Twin Towers in 2001 to the challenges of creating culture under Covid today. Interspersed with the essays are a series of archive pieces from past magazines, ranging from Mike Leigh on Arnold Wesker to Linda Grant on Saul Bellow, plus an introduction by Howard Jacobson.”

My article `What is Jewish Theatre` is one of the archive pieces they mention. Written, as I might have said before, about a visit we paid to a Festival of Jewish Theatre in Vienna, in 2007. But I was caught by the mention of the article by Mike Leigh about Arnold Wesker, and I had a flashback. Some years back, the then Deputy Literary Manager of the National Theatre invited me to a chat about three of my plays. The three that had earned me the Arts Council Theatre Writing Bursary. Candlesticks had recently been staged in a very intelligent production by director Rebecca Atkinson-Lord, at the Lion and Unicorn fringe venue in Kentish Town. It was a story about a Jewish girl who became a Christian, and lived next door to a gentile boy (childhood sweetheart) who in the course of the play converted to Judaism. Every conceivable viewpoint, I thought, was represented in this play. But I recall what the guy at the NT said to me about it. He said, thoughtfully, `Of course, we wouldn`t be interested to do Candlesticks, not at the moment – because we have just done Two Thousand Years.

Anyhow – back to the stories. Twelve down, five to go.