Play about abused women still resonates after 25 years
Actress and playwright Naomi Ackerman brings ‘Flowers Aren’t Enough’ to local Jerusalem performance
Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.
It’s been 25 years since actress Naomi Ackerman wrote “Flowers Aren’t Enough,” an Israeli play about the inner world of battered women.
Some 2,000 performances later, Ackerman is still performing the show, and will bring it to a Jerusalem congregation on September 29, when it will be performed in Hebrew (Ackerman sometimes performs in English too).
“It is always a conversation that needs to be had, this show,” said Ackerman. “Things have changed and it’s not taboo and we talk about it, but it’s still happening.”
The 50-minute monologue tells the story of Michal, a young woman from an upper-middle-class family who finds herself in an abusive relationship.
Ackerman, a Los Angeles native who moved to Israel when she was nine, was commissioned by the Jerusalem Ministry of Welfare in 1998 to write the play, then as a shorter piece for a city social workers conference.
At the time, she interviewed women from a Jerusalem safehouse as well as social workers who worked with them as part of her research.
“The strength is in the simplicity of the story and that it really focuses on this woman,” said Ackerman. “It’s such a quintessential story of what happens to anyone — not just women — when they’re in a relationship that has power and control.”
It’s still relevant now, said Ackerman, particularly in Israel where domestic violence is on the rise.
“So many women and men live in situations that are dangerous, horrid and unacceptable because they’re ashamed of themselves,” said Ackerman.
She’s found that there’s power in the theater piece to move and mobilize the audience, and usually holds a discussion after each performance.
In the years that Ackerman has been performing and discussing the play, she’s also created a curriculum to encourage communication based on the play, and uses theater and arts professionally to work with youth at risk and incarcerated youth.
The September 29 performance of “Flowers Aren’t Enough” is sponsored by the Keren Tzedeka of Kehilat Kol Haneshama, a Reform congregation. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit programs in Israel that help women and their families who are dealing with abusive situations.
The showing will be held at Kehilat Kol Haneshama, 7 Asher Street, Jerusalem, September 29 at 8:00 p.m.