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Meet Rose Oser, former congregant, book writer of Shoshana in December, a new queer Chanukah musical. 

12/02/2022 11:09:43 AM


“I wanted to write a musical about what it means to be Jewish during the month of December,” said Rose Oser [she\they], book writer of Shoshana in December, a new queer Chanukah musical. Rose was a congregant at Rodef Sholom growing up, and reflects on how Rodef Sholom influenced her passion for writing and the power of language. Check out Rose’s play, produced by Custom Made Theatre Company at The Phoenix Theatre in San Francisco, November 18th-December 18th, 2022. Grab your tickets here! 

Tell me a little about yourself. I am a theatermaker and producer, currently living in Oakland, California. I am the book writer of Tinderella: the modern musical, which was produced by Custom Made in 2018 and subsequently produced in Portland by Stumptown Stages in 2022. I just left my position as Interim Producing Director at Z Space, after producing a great run of The Red Shades: A Trans Superhero Rock Opera by Adrienne Price, Matt Fukui Grandy, and Jeanine Adkisson. I also produce and host Tinder Disrupt, San Francisco’s most romantically and sexually successful PowerPoint dating show

What was it like growing up at Rodef Sholom? I went to Sunday school and Hebrew school at Rodef Sholom. During my B’nai Mitzvah, Rabbi Stacy spoke about the power of words and encouraged me to continue to influence others through my writing. I’m trying! I also have fond memories of Cantor David’s singing and sense of humor.

SHOSHANA IN DECEMBER is described as “a new poly holiday musical about Hanukkah, Christmas, and the traditions we create for ourselves.” Can you tell us more? The story centers on Shoshana; she feels overwhelmed by the month of December, which I think is a relatable feeling for a lot of Jewish folks. Shoshana meets someone named Cecily, a confident queer and polyamorous person, who invites her to spend Christmas with their family in LA. Shoshana juggles spending Chanukah with her mother Rebecca and her partner Danny, while also being drawn to this new person. Ultimately the story is about abundance-- honoring that the oil created abundant light and seeing our own capacity for abundant love.

Why do you think Shoshana in December is an important story to tell at this moment? I was recently on BART and saw a “holiday” poster of a gingerbread man on ice skates, skating past a smiling dreidel. When I looked closer I saw that the gimel on the dreidel was printed backwards. That’s why we need more Chanukah content, created for and by Jewish people. 

What initially drew you to play writing? Right when I graduated from college I started writing some sketch comedy with Weston Scott, the lyricist of both Tinderella and Shoshana. I like the collaborative aspect of playwriting, and the way that humor can be used to help people enter new ideas. 

What is the biggest challenge you faced with creating your play? The show is a piece of fiction, but there are some characters and conversations that are based on reality. Here in the Bay Area, many folks are accepting of facets of queer identity, but I think ethical non-monogamy (or polyamory) is still fairly new to lots of people. There is a vulnerability to writing about that, and a desire to represent it in a positive and affirming way. 

Do you have a message you want to send to your Rodef Sholom community or a message you’d like to share with anyone struggling with isolation or who might not have found their own holiday traditions yet? Chanukah lasts for eight nights so we can try something new each night. If you do something more than once, you can call it a tradition.

(Interview conducted by Rose Hornstein)

Tue, March 28 2023 6 Nisan 5783