Tour Dates

October 3rd - St. Catherines (Workshop/Market Square)
November 17th - Glasgow (Hamilton Townhouse)
November 21th - Liverpool (Sefton Palm House)

What is the Book of Judith?

The Book of Judith, created by Michael Rubenfeld and Sarah Garton Stanley, is a musical play about a self-annointed preacher man who is passionately driven to change the lives of others. After a chance meeting with a quadriplegic woman named Judith Snow, theatre artist Matthew Goldberg believes he has “seen the light”. With the help of his director, Shauna Coupland, and her best friend, disabled artist, Pippa McLaren, Matthew has managed to coral a fully integrated group of choristers with and without disability, to help him tell, for the first time, his inspirational, maniacal and deeply suspect tale of Judith Snow. The Book of Judith takes us from innocence to ignorance and through to the other side – a truer place of transformation.

The Book of Judith stars Michael Rubenfeld and features Sarah Garton Stanley, Judith Snow and a revolving cast comprised of local members of the community the work is performed in. It is directed by Sarah Garton Stanley.

Thursday, May 21, 2009



Labeled as a “healing crusade,” Michael Rubenfeld’s The Book of Judith is one-fourth public service announcement, one-fourth choir-fueled, faux-Christian church service, and one-fourth personal exorcism — of Rubenfeld’s own inner difficulty in facing another individual’s disabilities head on. That leaves one fourth remaining, but we’ll get to that later.

Co-produced by director Sarah Stanley’s Die in Debt Theatre, Rubenfeld’s own Absit Omen Theatre and The Theatre Centre (almost next door neighbor to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on whose grounds the tent for this piece is pitched), the work centers on Rubenfeld’s experiences with Judith Snow, an advocate for the respect of those who live with disabilities and for their right to decide their own fates.

The missal that accompanies the show is full of Snow’s own wonderings about her life as a quadriplegic. Read from frequently, as if it’s scripture, her words of wisdom speak to those who would judge anyone based on their physical abilities alone. Set alongside the lyrics to the dozen or so songs composed for the play by Sunparlour Players’ frontman Andrew Penner (infused with his distinctive, half-moaning, half-mournful sound), this literal book of Judith is, then, the map to Rubenfeld’s redemption.

The tent-cum-temple suits the piece well, offering an intimate but well-illuminated environment. Matched with the sweet smells from the CAMH’s front gardens and the smoky scents wafting off the various candles lit around the space, the event feels immediate, which helps to make it inspiring.

What works most about The Book of Judith is the personal energy Rubenfeld gives it. It is really his story, and he is the one who is to be healed by it. As a whole, however, the performance is still strongly focused outwards, and while there are few moments of unearned intensity, the work never loses sight of its one very clear goal — to commune with its congregation.

The plot — if there is one — is perhaps too unbelievably unbelievable to hold much water, but the passion of Rubenfeld and the choir (itself comprised of 12 individuals of mixed physical abilities) drive the evening forward regardless. What seems to be absent, however, is the ever-building intensity required to usher in the reconciliation at the piece’s close.

And that’s where the missing one-fourth comes in. All shows need an audience to activate them, the The Book of Judith more so than most. It is a socially minded, soul-mending public spectacle of the stand-up-and-shout variety and, at the risk of sounding more of a cheerleader than critic, I encourage you to see this and to lend to its charming crusade your own energy. You never know: miracles happen every day.


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