Dobama Adds Israeli Best Play ‘On the Grill’ to Summer Schedule

Tags: Federation, Arts

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The cast of the Israeli production of “On the Grill”
Photo / Gadi Dagon

Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News.

by Bob Abelman

It started in 2015 with an offer to go to Israel.

“The Jewish Federation of Cleveland invited me to attend the Israeli Theatre Festival in and around Tel Aviv,” recalls Nathan Motta, artistic director of Dobama Theatre. “The goal was to introduce me to Israeli playwrights with the hope that they would be on my radar for upcoming seasons. I didn’t expect to find anything that would fit within our mission [to be Cleveland’s Off-Broadway theater company].”

But then he visited the Cameri Theater, the Lincoln Center of Israel, and saw Dror Keren’s “On the Grill.” “It was very much in the style of the contemporary theater I look for,” notes Motta, “in that it was intimate and dealt with urgent issues within a human framework.”

Three years later, and in celebration of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence, “On the Grill” is in rehearsal on the Dobama stage.

The winner of the 2015 Israeli Academy Award for Best Play, the drama is set in the backyard of a home on a veteran kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley where a family is celebrating Independence Day. Tensions build and generations collide as fireworks and artillery fill the sky and everyone tries to live a normal life under abnormal circumstances.

Helen Kaye, the theater critic for The Jerusalem Post, found herself “not the only one in the vociferously applauding audience with tears in my eyes.”

“On the Grill” will be making its American premiere with Dobama’s fully realized production, which is presented in partnership with the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection, a program of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

It features local actors Dorothy Silver, David Vegh, Juliette Regnier, Andrew Gombas, Arif Silverman, Emily Viancourt, Rocky Encalada, Nicholas Chokan, Michael Regnier and Olivia Scicolone.

Leighann Delorenzo, who has helmed Dobama productions of “The Revisionist” and “Slowgirl,” will be directing. She is, according to Motta, “particularly good at staging the high stakes of familial relationships.”

The playwright told the CJN that he has been working with Delorenzo on changes he is still making to the English translation of the script “in order to guarantee that the play and all its emotion are immediately accessible.”

Having also directed the Israeli production, Keren adds, “I am so looking forward to seeing these characters through someone else’s eyes.”

Preview: “On the Grill” at Dobama Theatre

WHERE: 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Hts.

WHEN: June 21-July 8, 2018

TICKETS & INFO: $26–$32, with discounts using code JFED, call 216-932-3396 or visit

Learn More: Federation, Arts