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It is our great pleasure to introduce to you the four young actors who will be starring in SpeakEasy Stage Company’s New England Premiere production of BAD JEWS, running Oct. 24 – Nov. 29.
The play, which The New York Times called “the best comedy of the season” focuses on the battle between two cousins, Liam and Daphna, for ownership of a coveted family heirloom. Also in the fray are Liam’s brother Jonah and Liam’s girlfriend Melody.
Read below and learn about Victor Shopov, the actor who portrays the intelligent and intense Liam.
How would you describe Liam Haber, the character you play in Bad Jews?
Liam is exceedingly intelligent and he knows it. Unfortunately, he sometimes puts that intelligence to use in the wrong way, specifically by laying out an often expletive-laced case for why he is right and everyone else is not. However, I think that his passion, as abrasive it can sometimes be, comes from a place of genuinely caring about those closest to him. He is also focussed on building a future for himself that is not restrained by what he perceives to be an archaic, irrelevant, and damaging framework for how he should live his life.
What parallels can you draw between you and Liam?
Liam has little patience for what he views as small-minded or bigoted beliefs, and even less respect for them. I am very much the same way, which can sometimes get me into trouble. There seems to be this pervasive attitude that we are obligated without exception to respect any belief or practice so long as it is wrapped in the cloak of “religion,” “culture,” or “tradition.” I do not adhere to that practice. I have absolutely no tolerance for anything even remotely resembling misogyny, homophobia, discrimination, or bigotry in any form, and if someone engaged in that kind of behavior tries to justify it by crying “religion/culture/tradition,” I tend not to respond very well. Liam responds slightly less well. I suppose you could say we are equally intolerant of intolerance.
Where does the comedy come from in the play?
I recently read a quote that humor is just tragedy seen in the rearview mirror, and I think that’s particularly true in Bad Jews. I also think most humor tends to originate from honesty – how people really think, feel, behave, and speak—especially within the context of hyper-emotional circumstances. Humor is often used as a weapon and as a shield, and I think a lot of that is prevalent in this show.
BAD JEWS is a particularly controversial title. What do you think it means?
I think this sort of goes back to my earlier response about people feeling entitled to shield themselves from anything resembling criticism or negativity simply by virtue of their religious affiliation, cultural background, etc. The title is meant to provoke a question, not to level an insult, and I think any reasonable person who takes the time to actually read the play (or, better yet, to see it!) will walk away with that conclusion as well.
What is your favorite quote from the play (from any character) and why?
I love the moment when Melody says “people are just people” because it so simply encapsulates a point of view that we tend to overlook much of the time. It is easy to segment each other into groups – to categorize ourselves based on religion, ethnicity, political beliefs, or any other surface descriptor – but doing so can make us lose sight of the fact that when we strip all of that away, we are all made of the same materials, we all breathe the same air, and we are all headed for the same destination at the end of the road. So, really, we are far more similar than we are different, and it would be nice if we did more to level the playing field accordingly.