In the Belly of the Whale

the show

About In the Belly of the Whale

We look back to the Holocaust and say 'never again' – but not 'What next?'
- J., In the Belly of the Whale

What's it about?
“What does it mean to you to be Jewish?” A simple question, with no easy answers. Wrestling with this led playwright, director and performer Jonathan Bender to create a one-man show to address the complex, changing, and multifaceted nature of being Jewish in the 21st century.

In the Belly of the Whale takes the audience on a journey to a rather unusual place, that one might call…biblical. When a secular slam poet, J., is forced to face his unexamined Jewish identity, he runs away, and mysteriously finds himself inside the belly of a whale. There, he encounters eight others with very different orientations to being Jewish, ranging from an atheist social activist to the wife of an ultra-orthodox rabbi with nine children.

Are those fictional or real people?
Whale consists entirely of real people and true stories. The characters and their words are taken verbatim from eight interviews, and from the experiences of the performer. The performance also includes dance and spoken word.

Who will benefit from seeing Whale?
The show's purpose is two-fold. First, it creates dialogue among Jews (both secular and of all denominations) about Jewish identity and practice. Second, Whale exposes non-Jews to the diversity of Jewish experience and identity. In both cases, it helps build bridges within a community.

Other useful information?
The show is appropriate for adults and teens ages 13 and up. Running time is approximately one hour. Non-Fringe festival performances are followed by a discussion with the audience, usually co-facilitated by the performer and a rabbi or prominent voice in the local Jewish community.