“I’ve worn so many hats,” says Reuven Glezer (’19), a Brooklyn-based artist who recently directed the play The Jewish Question: A Report from the Jewish Deportation as Documented by C.S. Chaplin at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. “I’ve been a stagehand, an assistant director, on crew, a light operator, a dramaturg, and a playwright – which is pretty par for the course for plenty of theater people.”
Glezer chatted with us recently about his time at Baruch and how his college experience informs his current work.
When did you first get interested in theater and what led you to enroll in Baruch when you were looking at colleges?
I originally went to Baruch for Journalism but quickly found myself bored by sticking to one discipline, so I became a multidisciplinary major through the CUNY BA program. My interest in theater didn’t entirely pique until I took Theater History with Dr. Debra Caplan, who introduced me to plays that definitely changed my perspective on the form as a whole and my own interest. However the next semester, I started working on a student-run musical, The Last Five Years (co-directed by friends), and found myself more and more captivated by the experience of making theater rather than just observing it. Even then, theater became my focus and what communicated to me much more deeply than anything else.
What did you find most rewarding about your student experience at Baruch?
The Harman Writer-in-Residence program is such a unique facet of the Baruch experience. For a school that is known largely as a business school, Baruch’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences has some brilliant minds teaching future writers, critics, and artists. The staff, especially the liberal arts staff, has some absolute geniuses working on campus.
You worked closely with Prof. Debra Caplan to create The Jewish Question. Can you describe what it is like to work with her and how she impacted your time at Baruch as a student?
Dr. Caplan has been, from the day we met, a mentor and a friend and now I can proudly say a colleague and collaborator. I can’t tell you how many ideas we’ve bounced off each other that led to a wild, spectacular end result. She really is the platonic ideal of an editor and dramaturg and I’m glad to say she’s the person who got me into treating theater seriously. If I hadn’t taken her class on a whim way back in my freshman year, I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today.
What inspired you to stage The Jewish Question and how did you wind up directing it at BPAC?
It was just such a weird, freeform piece that inspired a lot of questions and conversations regarding its intent, its content, and its power as a work staged in 2019. Dr. Caplan actually brought the text to me; she had just translated the original and wanted it to have a future life. We both immediately saw that the original translation had major flaws as a text and as a piece of theater. After a few months we thought a staged reading would help us get a first glance on the work and understand just what it needed. We approached the Jewish Studies Center to arrange a staged reading at Baruch Performing Arts Center with myself directing the new text.
You’ve worked on other plays as well, including on plays in which you’ve collaborated with fellow Baruch alumni. Could you talk a bit about your other work?
In August 2019 I made my “real-world” debut as a playwright with The Argentinian Prostitute Play, which was helmed by my fellow alum Zeynep Akca (’18). The play was staged as a reading at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in November 2018. Earlier that year I made my Off-Broadway debut as an assistant director with “God Shows Up” at the Actors’ Temple. Doing theater at Baruch was a cross between hands-on education and a lot of self-taught skills coming into play. Our program was much more limited, which resulted in a very jack-of-all-trades culture.