Writing and finding the soul, one play at a time
by Valeen Kalimootoo
Mar 01, 2011 | 2064 views | 1 1 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Chana Porter, a Woodhaven playwright, is on her way to success with the help from her family and friends. However, success didn’t just fall in her lap. As a child Porter dealt with stuttering, a communication disability which led her to writing as a way of expressing herself.

“I wrote poems and songs," she said. "I’d put on puppet shows and act. It was the only way I could express what I had in me.”

Porter continued writing. She later realized that everyone had a problem with communication, just in different ways, her problem being more physical. Instead of being held back, her disability motivated her into pursuing her creative dreams.

Growing up in Columbia, Maryland, Porter was raised in a Jewish family and attended Jewish Orthodox school. “I am very intrigued with how Jewish methodology has a preoccupation with the soul,” she said. “It tells a lot of what the Jewish values are.”

Porter became fascinated by this and based all her plays on “private made public,” a concept that explains lost souls.

“When people die, they go into other people and play a part of possession,” she said. “The soul stays into the person until they see how that person was.”

She began writing plays at the age of 19. So far, she has written five plays, three of which have been performed. Her latest one, “Besharet,” (meaning soulmate in Hebrew) will be produced by AliveWire Theatrics from March 5 to March 27 at the 9th Space theater in Manhattan.

“Besharet” takes place in 1980s Manhattan. The play follows three characters - two partners in a law firm and one lawyer's wife. The main character, Samuel Cohen, is approached by a young man who knows more than he should about him and what he’s been hiding in his past.

Based on Jewish folklore and mysticism, Porter wrote the play to conceptualize faith, love, truth, gender and sexuality. She describes it as a ghost story based on how “the past creates our day-to-day lives.”

The play has already received good feedback. One critic called it “absolutely astonishing” and “completely original and captivating.”

As an artist, Porter wants to spread her work throughout the city. She has called Woodhaven for the past two years.

“I want my plays to be about everyone and Queens is the best place to start,” she said. “I would love to see more art in my little part of Queens.”

She is captivated by the diversity of the borough.

“I really love Queens so much,” she said. “You really get the sense of this is where people’s lives are. There are so much people who care and take pride in themselves and what they have.”

Porter is continuing her rapidly growing career, working on another play called “Leap and the Net Will Appear,” directed by Craig Lucas. This play will be read on March 14 at the same location and will be shown on the days when “Besharet” is not performed.

Aside from being a playwright, Porter is also the co-founder of AliveWire Theatrics together with Scott Rodrigue, the developmental and producing director. Along with this, she is wrapping up her first graphic novel, The Ruthie Chronicles, which will be published this summer. She is also developing a film with director Kevan Tucker.

At 26 years old, Porter is working hard to achieve her goals and is making a name for herself, starting with sharing her love of arts with her fellow Queens residents. “Queens is hungry for new art and I intend to give it to them,” she said.

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March 02, 2011
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