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'Golda's Balcony'

When Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in 1973, the joint invasion became known as the Yom Kippur War. In the days leading up to the offensive, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir found herself at a political crossroads, a place where her actions could lead to a nuclear war.

"Golda's Balcony," a one-woman show written by playwright William Gibson, explores those tension-filled moments and reflects on Meir's life as a Russian immigrant who eventually became Israel's fourth prime minister.

Ashland New Plays Festival and Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor Robynn Rodriguez will present a reading of "Golda's Balcony" at 8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27, at the Unitarian Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland.

Tickets for general seating cost $25 and are available at Paddington Station and Music Coop in Ashland, or by emailing tickets@ashlandnewplays.org or calling 541-488-7995.

Gibson's tour de force was produced on Broadway in 2003 and set a record as the longest-running one-woman play in the Great White Way's history, with 493 performances.

"I thought it would be remarkable to do this play," says Douglas Rowe, artistic director of Ashland New Plays Festival. "Golda Meir was fascinating, and this is a time when we were virtually on the brink of World War III," he says.

While the play is set during a historic conflict, it also is largely an examination of Meir's personal and professional life as it follows her from immigrant to schoolteacher to international political leader. The play's title refers to an area in Israel's Dimona Nuclear Weapons facility where Meir would observe the creation of weapons.

In conjunction with the play reading, ANPF will host a preshow dinner at Cucina Biazzi where Rabbi Sue Morningstar will talk about Meir's life and work.

"She was feminist before the word ever existed, and I'm looking forward to discussing her," Morningstar says.

Rowe says he hopes the dinner and talk will enhance the audience's understanding of the play. "The evening at Cucina Biazzi will help people become more aware of the times, and I think it will enlarge the experience," Rowe says.

The dinner is set for 5 p.m. Monday. The cost is $60 per person and includes a ticket to "Golda's Balcony."

ANPF helps playwrights create and showcase their work through public readings. ANPF's flagship festival is an annual, international playwright competition that culminates in the reading of four new plays selected from hundreds of submissions. The readings feature professional actors from OSF and the community.

ANPF holds close ties with OSF, and Rowe — who is playing U.S. Sen. Richard Russell in the festival's production of "All the Way" — says he had no problem casting the role of Meir.

"I don't audition actors," Rowe says. "I just think of someone I know who would play the role to a fare-thee-well. In this case, I just knew Robynn would be wonderful."