The Pacific Theatre 2017/2018 season includes the premiere of Mark Leiren-Young's Bar Mitzvah Boy
The Pacific Theatre 2017/2018 season includes the premiere of Mark Leiren-Young's Bar Mitzvah Boy

Set to make its world premiere at Vancouver’s Pacific Theatre in 2018, Mark Leiren-Young’s Bar Mitzvah Boy has been awarded the 2017 Jewish Playwriting Prize.

Awarded by The Jewish Plays Project, the Prize is an annual award juried by artists, community panel members, and audiences.

Now in its sixth year, the 2017 contest included 219 submissions from six countries with voting taking place in seven cities across the United States. The award includes a two-week workshop of the script and public reading at next year’s Open: Festival of New Jewish Theatre in New York City.

Bar Mitzvah Boy is the story of an older lawyer who has a sudden and desperate need to get bar mitzvahed. In the play, a Rabbi struggles to find her way after a terrible tragedy, and a secular man finds new purpose through ritual and generational relationships.

“Our readers and audience members across the country laughed out loud, gasped at the revelations, and just fell in love with this play,” says Jewish Plays Project artistic director David Winitsky in a media release. “Mark’s two-actor comedy brings us to the heart of a very contemporary question: how and why do we keep faith in the face of monumental pain?”

Now living in Victoria, Mark Leiren-Young is an award-winning playwright, author, screenwriter, and filmmaker. His book The Killer Whale Who Changed the World has recently been released in the USA and Canada and his play Shylock will also be presented at the 2017 Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in Vancouver this summer. Leiren-Young previously worked as the theatre writer for one of Vancouver’s major daily newspapers.

“This contest has been such a wild ride. I read the other scripts, and it’s an honour to be selected,” says Leiren-Young in the release.

The play came about when Leiren-Young originally proposed the script idea to Pacific Theatre’s artistic director Ron Reed.

“I was very interested when Mark came to me with the idea for Bar Mitzvah Boy, if it dealt with the core of personal faith and belief,” says Reed. “What he came to me with was the perfect script – entertaining, funny, and smart, while digging right into the struggles of faith and loss.”

Bar Mitzvah Boy plays as part of Pacific Theatre’s 2017/2018 season from March 23 to April 14. Visit http://pacifictheatre.org for more information.