Interview with a ‘Bad Jew’

Lara Lipschitz
Before the premiere of Bad Jews, The Cape Jewish Chronicle chatted to Lara Lipschitz about her role of Daphna in this Fugard production, her
reflections on her Jewishness in this context and how she feels about the play.


How are you similar to and different from the character you play in Bad Jews?
I’m similar in that I’m a young, Jewish woman who takes pride in her religion and heritage. I, like, Daphna, am very interested in Jewish history and respecting what has been passed down to me with the intention of passing it on to my children one day. I’m different in that I’m not a very confrontational person. I’m not argumentative and I’d like to think I’m more open minded and inclusive than Daphna is. Daphna is an only child on a mission to prove herself and her beliefs to her cousins, Liam and Jonah. I am the youngest of four children and I don’t feel the need to prove myself to any of my siblings. Daphna and I actually have very little in common personality wise, which is why this is such an exciting and challenging role for me to play.


Do you bring any personal experience from growing up to this performance?
Yes definitely. I grew up in Glenhazel, Johannesburg and I attended King David Linksfield. Even though I don’t consider myself to be a religious person, I do appreciate and practice many of the traditions. In some ways I am a “bad Jew” but I am also proudly Jewish. I have met a lot of people who are similar to Daphna and Liam, who have opposing perspectives on Judaism and what it means to be a “good” or a “bad Jew” which I can definitely bring to my performance.


Did you learn anything new/surprising about being Jewish when reading through your lines?
Yes, the first time I read the play I was surprised at how I could agree with each side of the argument as each side is valid and strong. It made me question my own beliefs even more than I already have so far in my life, which is always a good thing. It is a very important and interesting debate on Judaism and family, and it continues to surprise me through the rehearsal process.


How do you think bringing humour and irreverence to Jewish topics helps Jews find a place in modern, secular culture?
Jews have always thrived in the world of comedy. I believe its because comedy and tragedy go hand in hand. Any one person or nation that has been oppressed or expelled in some way is forced to develop a sense of humour to deal with the pain. Humour allows us to laugh at ourselves and tackle tragedy in that way. It also makes us question who we are, why and how we practice Judaism today, in our ever-changing secular culture.


What are you hoping the audience takes away from this production?
I hope the audience is left questioning the character’s as well as their own faith, whether it’s Judaism or any other belief system. This play happens to be about a Jewish family, but it has many universal themes such as sibling rivalry, cross-cultural marriage, death and how that brings underlying issues to the surface of any family. It should spark debate among the audience and leave them thinking. Not forgetting this is a comedy and should leave the audience feeling exhilarated after all the laughing they will have done.


Lara studied Drama at Wits University graduating cum laude and earning the Johannesburg Dramatic and Operatic Society Prize for Musical Theatre (2010) Her first professional offering to the stage was her own one- woman show, an adaptation of My Uncle Oswald. (2011) She featured on Isidingo, playing Rosie Lawrence (2012) and later that year toured Asia and South Africa with Jersey Boys. Lara produces, writes and acts in her own web series, Chin Up, based on her experiences as an actress, found on her YouTube Channel LaraBowTV. One of her most rewarding experiences so far has been working with Eve Ensler in the play Emotional Creature . (2014) She was most recently seen playing Lulu in The Fugard Theatre’s Cabaret . (2015)


The Fugard Theatre’s production of Bad Jews opened on 27 October 2015. Tickets range from R130.00 – R150.00 via the Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554 and the Computicket website,



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here