- TRADITIONAL JEWISH STORIES
- ORIGINAL SHOWS ON JEWISH THEMES
- 1 KING DAVID, ABSALOM & US
- 2 KING DAVID, ABSALOM & US (HQ)
- 3 BYE, BYE, SH-NUKE!!
- 4 BYE, BYE, SH-NUKE!! (HQ)
- 5 THE CAVE OF MACHPELAH & US
- 6 THE CAVE OF MACHPELAH & US (HQ)
- 7 THE KING’S SON & THE EMPEROR’S DAUGHTER (ORIGINALLY: “RAHEL! RAHEL!”)
- 8 THE KING’S SON & THE EMPEROR’S DAUGHTER (HQ) (ORIGINALLY: “RAHEL! RAHEL!”)
- 9 IN THOSE DAYS
- 10 IN THOSE DAYS (HQ)
- GESTALT THERAPY SESSIONS
- TORAH COMMENTARY VIDEOS
- OTHER VIDEOS
- MERKAVA THEATER
- וידאו בעברית
- 1 תרגילי מודעות
- 2 עבודה עם חלומות
- 3 סיפורים
- 4 אשלג ותיאטרון
- 5 ברסלב ותיאטרון
- 6 ליקוטי מוהר”ן
- ESSAYS (PDF DOWNLOADS)
- 1 INTRODUCTION
- 2-GESTALT SIDDUR
- 3 TORAH PORTIONS
- 4 ARISTOTLE TRADITION
- 5 PLATO TRADITION
- 6 GESTALT SESSIONS
- 7 THEATER TECHNIQUES
- 8 WONDERFUL WORKS OF WEPNER 2006
- 8 TEXTS OF SHOWS
- 9-nachman index & summaries 2009
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Thank you for visiting my site. Let me tell you what the general framework is. There is a section for videos (100 hours so far). The video section is divided into 4 main parts: (1) sixteen Jewish stories, (2) five original musical shows on Jewish themes, and (3) demonstrations of Gestalt Therapy sessions, and (4) Torah commentary videos. The essay section has a bunch of subdivisions, including (1) an introductory section, (2) essays about Gestalt Therapy theory and practice, (3) essays about basic Judaism in relation to Gestalt Therapy, and (4) deeper essays about Judaism in relation to Gestalt Therapy, philosophy and kabbalah (Jewish philosophy). The essays about kabbalah are subdivided into those focusing on the Aristotelian tradition (Maimonides, Luzzatto, Hegel, Chabbad, Ashlag, Stanislavski, Carl Zimmerman) and those focusing on the Platonic tradition (Philo, Crescas, Francis Bacon, Leibniz, Kant, Hamann, Nachman of Breslav, Walter Benjamin, Bertold Brecht, Antonin Artaud). I wrote most of the essays during the last 10 years, but there are a few essays on education which I wrote before that (such as the one called “Orientation Therapy” and the essays on Vygotsky).
Please respect my work by listening to the soundtrack with decent earphones or speakers. Decent earphones are not expensive. If you try to encounter my videos without earphones and on a bargain basement laptop, you will probably get very upset very quickly. It won’t sound good and it won’t look good. That’s your problem, not my problem. I created these videos using a Macpro desktop, Final Cut, Motion, Logic, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. These are high end editing tools. The essays, of course, do not require any special equipment.
Here is how to look for a particular video or essay. Just think of an upside down tree, with the root on top and the branches on the bottom. For example, if you want to get to a video of me doing Gestalt Therapy dreamwork called “the burning bush”, you follow the following path: videos>gestalt therapy sessions>my own dreamwork>DREAMWORK burning bush>part 1. Note that for each video there is a choice of the regular version and the HQ (high quality) version. The regular version is an mp4 file and the HQ version is a quicktime movie (mov) file. The HQ version takes a lot more memory (RAM) and therefore will take a lot more time to download. That is bad news, but the advantage of the HQ version is that the images and sound will be a lot better. It’s your decision. If finding videos on this site is too difficult, then just go to vimeo.com, type in my name on the vimeo site, and then either scan all my videos there or type in the name of the video you are looking for. They will find it for you – if it is there. Vimeo is the site that has all my videos on it, in both the regular and the HQ versions, and also not chopped up into 15 minute fragments the way they are on other sites. The essays you will find only on this franklynwepner.com website.
The essays are not just footnotes to the videos. There are loads of people making videos these days, and there are loads of people writing essays these days. The most important thing you can get from me, if you want it, is the integration of theory and practice. If you take the trouble to watch the videos, read the essays and do some of the processes I describe, you will find, I believe, that the entire edifice I am presenting to you is a single integrated whole. It is a journey in search of existential truth, spiritual fulfillment, and artistic beauty which it has taken me most of my life to navigate. What comes to my mind is Hegel’s account of the realm of “absolute spirit”, in which – by means of dialectical thinking – philosophy, religion and the arts share a common vocabulary and holistic point of view. Hegel’s system is a bit too intellectual for my taste, and perhaps Schelling or some other writers of the Romantic and Idealist period come closer to the mark. And of course we must not forget the follies that an overdose of dialectical fantasizing can bring about when historical circumstances allow it to become malignant and metastasize, as in the pathology of a Hitler or a Marx. Personally, I find the theory of prophecy which Maimonides gives us in his “Guide For The Perplexed” to be the best fit for reality as I perceive it. That is, we need to balance our cognitive and our imaginative/emotional faculties to arrive at a middle way, what kabbalists label the middle pillar of the tree of life. Maimonides avoids the criticism of being too intellectual by stressing that it is by means of our intuitive nature that we can come closest to fulfilling our potential as made in the image of God, assuming that first of all we have given our cognitive side its due. A true prophet, for Maimonides, is one who has attained this proper balance. From such a person we can hope to hear the Word.
In the “videos” section you will find (so far) about 100 hours of videos. Nine hours of these are videos based on 16 traditional Jewish stories and 5 original musical shows on Jewish themes. The remaining 91 hours of videos are devoted to demos of Gestalt Therapy as treatment and as an art form. Of these, two hours show a session on awareness in which I am directing actress Bel Beca. Though she is a pro actress, Bel is not doing a phoney act in this video. She is really doing Gestalt Therapy on her life. Likewise for the other hours of Gestalt demos, done my me personally. I also am not doing an act here. I am really doing Gestalt dreamwork on my own life. Doing the therapy in front of you as an audience required Bel and me to make a few adjustments, of course, but we tried to focus on existential action in our lives, and not on doing an act for you.
After each video you will find a series of boxes labeled “comment”. The first box usually is grabbed by me, where I throw in (at no extra charge) my own take on that video. If I want you to relate that video to a particular essay of mine or some other reference, then usually you will find there a “link” in pretty blue letters for you to click, like Alice In Wonderland gobbling down the cookie that says “eat me”. I warn you, though, once you start pushing those blue links you will be hooked. Your mind will be brainwashed forever. Also in my box I will give you as much of that reference essay as the box will hold. To read the whole essay you probably will need to use the link or go hunt for that essay in the “essays” part of this website. After my box, you will find lots of other empty boxes. For a while I invited all and sundry to insert comments. Then one day I found some spam company had inserted 1500 comments to increase their coverage on Google. So for now I closed off the “comment” option. Please send me an email instead. In the Introduction section for the Essays you will find two “tables of contents” where I list all the essays and add a few words of summary. The first table of contents I label “Wonderful Works of Wepner”. That list I made in 2006, and the “Volumes” alluded to there are actual printouts that I made at that time. The second table of contents I made in 2009, and it presents a rather detailed introduction to some of the essays that I have written about Nachman of Breslav’s “Collected Essays” (“Likutei Moharan”). Overall, Maimonides’ “Guide For The Perplexed”, Nachman of Breslav’s “Collected Essays”, Gestalt Therapy and the post-Brechtian theater tradition are the main topics of my theoretical writing during the past 20 years.
One thing you might not expect to encounter in all the musical theater videos of Jewish stories and shows on Jewish themes is that they all are by me, completely. That is to say, I am the writer of the text, the composer of the music, the performer and the videographer. Of course, a lot of the texts are traditional Jewish legends, some of which I took (with his kind permission) from the anthologies and retellings of editor Howard Schwartz. It is not that I chose this monumental task voluntarily. Rather, I simply could not afford to pay actors. With very few exceptions, the actors I encountered along the way were too preoccupied with dollars or shekels to pay much attention to my work. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, since it forced me to dig deeper into my own potentialities to find the resources to get the job done. The internet is a gold mine, and there I found an endless supply of images to collage along with my texts and music. Even the Gestalt Therapy I needed to demonstrate by myself, with the exception of the work of actress Bel Baca. Most people are too bashful to put their therapy on the web. As for the results of this monster ego trip I have traversed, you can judge for yourself. Along with this site and vimeo, you also can find my videos on youtube, jewtube, facebook, myspace and metacafe.
“In Those Days” is based on a script I created after a novel of the same name written by Yehuda Steinberg in Hebrew in 1904. The show is about the “cantonists” in 19th century Russia. They were Jewish boys, age 10, who were kidnapped by agents of the tsar to be brought up in Christian homes and then sent to fight in the Crimean War. The show is about one boy’s resistance to assimilation and intermarriage – certainly a timely topic nowadays.
Please note that the names of 3 of my shows that appear on the net are different from the original names you will find if you examine the scripts of those shows on this site. These changes are due to what it takes to get noticed on the net. “The Cave of Machpelah and Us” originally was entitled “Once Upon A Cave”. I needed a title that would allow the internet search engines to bring people interested in the Cave of Machpelah to my show, so I had to put “the Cave of Machpelah” into the title of the show. Likewise for the show “King David, Absalom and Us”, which originally was named “Flaming At The Gates Of Paradise”. For the show about Nachman of Breslav I ran into a different internet problem. The original title was “Rahel! Rahel!”, but on the net I discovered that Paul Newman once directed a movie called “Rachel, Rachel”, and I needed to avoid getting my title crowded out by his title. Hence I selected the title of one of Nachman’s stories as the title of my show: “The King’s Son & The Emperor’s Daughter”. My Purim show originally was “Daniel In Shushan”, since I brought the prophet Daniel into the action. When I began to focus on the Iran connection and super sh-nuke Ahmadinejad, I threw away most of the show (for now anyway) and just used the songs that fit into my political statement. So that show became “Bye, Bye, Sh-nuke!!”
Concerning the videos, two moments where theory and practice come close to congruence are the last part of “The King’s Son And The Emperoror’s Daughter” and scene 6 of “The Cave of Machpelah & Us”. The story “Israel & The Enemy” also comes close to the mark. The demo videos of Gestalt Therapy dreamwork, such as “Genesis” and “Truth Search” present me personally groping for meaning in my own life. All of these especially “hot” videos present the crucial dialectical moment of centering or what kabbalists label “tsimtsum” (Hebrew: “contracting of ego”). This is the moment that the thesis and the antithesis of a conflict both are negated in the course of a committed action, so that a synthesis which is a higher integration of those two opposites can be born from the void of “not knowing”. It is interesting that the same videos which to me are most relevant also are the ones which have gotten the most hits from internet viewers. So far I’ve gotten about 250,000 hits total during the last 2 years, and at times my stuff has spread out to about 350,000 places on the net. The actual numbers you will see listed on a particular day depend on the whims of the various internet sites, and also upon whether I have recently uploaded new items to the web.
Concerning the theory essays, if you are new to these topics I will list here some of the key essays to begin with. In the Introduction look at “How I Work”. In the section on Gestalt and Judaism look at “Gestalt Siddur” and “Sukkot”. In the section on Torah Portions look at “B’reishit and Rashi”. In the section on the Aristotle tradition, look at “Prophecy Here Now” since there you get the in depth connection between Aristotle’s 26 principles and Maimonides’ “Guide For The Perplexed”. In the section on the Plato tradition look at the first few essays about Nachman’s “Likutei Moharan”, and if you are into talking to God check out “Hitbod’dut”. In the section on Gestalt Sessions look at the dreamwork by Elaine. In the section on Theater Techniques try to grasp what goes on in the Leaderless Worlds Exercise and the Prespeech Exercise, both of which I learned from the Mabou Mines Theater Company. Those exercises are key links between Brechtian theater and the work of Nachman of Breslav.
Eventually I hope you will begin to understand why I see dialectical philosophy, the Kabbalah (Jewish version of that dialectical philosophy), Gestalt Therapy and the Stanislavsky/Brecht theater tradition as subdivisions of the dialectical point of view which permeates much of world culture and spirituality. Gestalt Therapy, Talking To God (Hitbod’dut) and Brechtian theater are three convenient, accessible laboratories where with a little bit of insight and effort we can witness many of these profound processes unfolding before our very eyes, as in the words of the song, “My Eyes Have Seen The Glory Of The Coming Of The Lord”. With my B.A. in chemistry and biology I find such laboratory crucible settings congenial to my way of experiencing the peak experiences that life lays out before us. I am very grateful to the many pilgrims/guinea pigs who over the years have shared their quest with me. They all may come out for a curtain call at this moment!
Since the theory essays were written over the course of many years, do not expect to find everything laid out deductively as though in a textbook. Rather, read them in the manner you read Nachman’s “Likutei Moharan” essays, i.e., from both a deductive and an inductive point of view. Deductively, look for the big system with major topics and subdivisions of those topics. Inductively, look at each essay as a new beginning and be open to discovering how gradually they come together into key ideas. But trying to understand these essays by simply reading them is really not the way to get into this project at all. If you are serious about understanding what is here you need to do two bits of homework. First, do some Gestalt Therapy work on awareness and dreams, so you are not just another blind man trying to understand an elephant. If possible, do the Gestalt work BEFORE you read about Gestalt Therapy, so you don’t just copy all the “right answers” you get from seeing how other people do it. The second homework assignment is: get your head into a basic introduction to dialectical philosophy, such as the chapters in Copleston’s “History of Philosophy” on Plato and Aristotle. The chapters of Harry Wolfson’s “Philo” on the Logos are a clearly written guide. Once you see how Wolfson’s treatment of Philo is also the foundation of Nachman of Breslav, you are halfway there. The other half is to understand Gestalt Therapy by reading Perls’ “Gestalt Therapy Verbatim” and also the theory section of “Gestalt Therapy”, by Perls, Hefferline and Goodman. Then, with your mind focused on the underlying dialectical logic you should have little difficulty following me as I tease out this logical foundation from Maimonides’ “Guide For The Perplexed” and Nachman of Breslav’s “Likutei Moharan”. If you plow through these basics the first month and spend a second month on my stuff, you will have saved yourself the 35 years it has taken me to put it together.
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