A Performance Project in Progress

Conceived by
Brandon Woolf

At the end of page 96b of tractate Sanhedrin, the editors of the Babylonian Talmud begin a lengthy discussion of the coming days of M. One might argue that the next five pages of Sanhedrin constitute the first sustained attempt to explore M-ism as political theory (and not only as religious conviction). Living in exile, generations of rabbis turned to predictions across the scriptures about the end of days and dared to dream of an ideal polis as a spiritual-cum-political event yet to come. Just who or what are we waiting for? What should we do while we wait? Is repentance necessary for redemption? And what must happen before the coming?

The texture of this Talmudic text-fragment is heterogeneous to say the least: dialogue, debate, parable, philosophical reflection, mathematical calculation, geopolitical commentary, prayer, and conspiracy theory. But is Rabbinic exegesis suitable fodder for performance? And what are the associational meetings points of Talmudic hermeneutics and its pop-cultural-analogues, scenic leanings, cartoonish moments, song-and-dance numbers, etc. This work-in-progress is an embodied, aural, and olfactory meditation on the active, the passive, the apocalyptic, the redemptive, and – perhaps most centrally – the caffeinated qualities of waiting.