Decatur-based journalist and Congregation Bet Haverim member Diane Dexter will premiere her first play, “Deli,” Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Toco Hills synagogue as part of the congregation’s Fall Fundraiser.
The production is set around a family-owned Jewish delicatessen in a changing urban neighborhood around 1991. Dexter said she had the idea for the play after watching many family-owned businesses struggle in her hometown of Pittsburgh in the early 1990s.
“I’ve seen many independent businesses either close due to competition by chain stores, which could offer lower prices, or be bought by chains,” Dexter said. “My father was a pharmacist who ended up selling his drugstore to White Cross in the 1960s. I also saw some family-owned businesses close or be sold because, as the younger generations became more upwardly mobile, they entered different fields.”
In “Deli,” set in a fictional town, the neighborhood is changing, and a strip mall arrives and draws foot traffic from the small businesses.
Dexter began writing “Deli” in 2013 for a playwriting class at the Alliance Theatre and completed it over the summer. The play was read at Essential Theatre’s playwriting festival last summer, and in 2016 Dexter plans to explore more options to get the play to a wider audience.
The premiere Dec. 5 will be followed by a discussion with the writer.
All of the cast and crew are Bet Haverim members, and Dexter’s husband, Jim, is the director.
“I am thrilled and honored that CBH is producing ‘Deli,’ ” Dexter said. “Everyone involved is putting their heart and soul into this play. The actors are bringing their own approach to the characters. Honestly, I knew it was a smart congregation, but I am stunned by the talent level.”
Where: Congregation Bet Haverim, 2074 LaVista Road, Toco Hills
When: Saturday, Dec. 5, with deli refreshments at 7 p.m., the play at 8 and a discussion at 10
Tickets: $50 and up; congregationbethaverim.org