Sharon Zucker and her play ‘The Joy of Herding Cats’


Tell me a bit about your play.

As it stands right now, it’s set as a Rosh Hashanah holiday dinner. The whole purpose of the holiday is to atone for your sins from the past year, and to forgive others for their sins against you. So during Rosh Hashanah people come together and slowly the sins all come out. They admit to what they have done, and they tend to commit a few more sins on the day!

So you’re covering a lot of big themes then?

There are also some smaller themes! There is a love triangle going on. And it’s about individuals bringing their sins with them, and coming together as a group.

However it is all taking place in front of a holocaust survivor, who knows what it means to lose everything and have to rebuild their life from scratch. I thought a lot about the term ‘defiant joy’ whilst I was writing. It’s from a book called ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Victor Frankl. Frankl wrote about why some people survived the holocaust whilst others didn’t. The reason he came up with was that you had to have the willpower to try and find moments of joy, even in such a grim setting. He called this ‘defiant joy’, and I almost named the play after it. It all comes down to life being filled with suffering; then at Rosh Hashanah the book of life and death is opened, and you have to decide why you want to live another year until the next holiday.

Where did you get the idea?

Holiday dinners bring out all sorts of family dynamics. There’s just so much to play with! At first I was just writing about the fun times I’ve had at family dinners; but then I really started to think about it and how that experience compares to Rosh Hashanah as a traditionally very religious holiday. At my own family dinners there was always a lot of humour and a lot of laughter, and it covered up for a sense of sadness. Yet as the play developed I tried to look at more intense themes, to get it to have a real dramatic edge.

Why should people come and see the play?

It’s about family, and how we go through struggles in our lives, and the question of ‘What is life?’ It sounds very dramatic doesn’t it! I think we’ll see a lot of complexity within human beings, and try to understand why people do what they do. Once we understand, maybe we will be able to forgive it a little more easily.

Is this the first play you’ve written?

No. I have also written a play about post-natal depression and the breakdown of a marriage due to mental health issues. At the same time the depressed woman is struggling because her own mother is dying. The play looks at how the woman copes with raising her child, despite the condition of her mental health.

Have you ever written in other styles?

I’m starting to write a few short stories, and I write a blog which is made up of letters to my daughters about life.

Here is a link to that blog:


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