May 15, 2024
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Black Box PAC Is Bringing Theater Back

“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” When Shakespeare wrote these words over 400 years ago I’m sure he could not have imagined they would be performed on an outdoor stage in a part of the “new world” known as Bergen County, in the year 2021.

After many, many months of lockdown, COVID news, vaccination debate, fear, stress and uncertainty, how refreshing, how “normal” to be able to sit under the stars and watch a live theatrical performance of “As You Like It” performed by the talented actors of Black Box PAC.

I have been acting in productions since I was a child, but after becoming shomer Shabbat as an adult I thought I would never have the opportunity to perform on stage again. Enter Matt Okin, stage left, who had a vision of creating a theatre company that would be professional, cutting-edge and accessible for those observant actors who wanted to tread the boards. Many productions later, many laughs, much hard work and a few venue changes, Black Box PAC has grown into a beacon of live theatre in Bergen County and beyond.

After a stressful 18 months for all of us—Zoom fatigue included—I was delighted to be invited to participate in an original piece of theatre commissioned by the wonderful Zomick family in honor of their father David’s 80th birthday. The musical “Megilla” was written by David and his brother Elly years ago but never performed until now. It felt great to be back performing, working with the talented cast and crew, Black Box alums and new friends. The director, Leora, and musical director, Esti, both performers with Black Box since they were children, were skillful and fun to be around. For a couple of weeks it was possible to forget about COVID and all the other awful things the news channels are constantly throwing at us.

I’m a psychotherapist, and it also reinforced my belief that theatre is a powerful tool for overall health and well-being. It allows us to play, gives us humor and pathos, and reduces stress. An article this year in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology states, “Attending live theatre improves empathy, changes attitudes, and leads to pro social behavior.”

So, theatre is not only fun, but also thought-provoking, and good for your health. Black Box PAC, a 501(c)(3), nonprofit theatre, has been up and running again since summer 2020, offering classes, workshops and performance opportunities for children, teens and adults. Black Box PAC is in the middle of their fourth annual professional run of “Shakespeare in the Park” at Overpeck Park in Leonia, through August 29. Grab a lawn chair and go catch a free performance. Your stress levels will thank you. Also, check out other upcoming events and performance opportunities at www.blackboxpac.com.

June Mandeville
Teaneck
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