Temple Beth Or and Actors Comedy Lab will present a free staged reading of Souls Are Flying, three new one-act plays by Scott H. Davis based on the Yiddish short stories of I. L. Peretz (1859-1915), Oct. 19 and 20 at Temple Beth Or in Raleigh, NC. The readings of “Bontshe Shvayg” (“Bontshe the Silent”), “What Is A Soul?” and “If Not Still Higher!” will be followed by audience discussion with the playwright and directors.

Scott Davis is an actor, playwright, and storyteller. He lives in Raleigh and is an executive producer for UNC-TV.

According to preshow publicity, “Isaac Leybush Peretz was raised in a religious family in Poland and practiced law for a short time, but was disbarred due to religious persecution. In 1891 he moved his family to Warsaw, where he took a job working for the Jewish community council. In this position, he traveled through the Pale of Settlement the ghetto area in Csarist Russia where Jews were forced to live. There he met with Jews from all walks of life and began to write poems, plays, and short stories about them and the folk stories they told. There were traditional, by-the-book Orthodox Jews, Chassidic Jews, embracing mysticism and joyful worship and ‘freethinkers’ who turned to more progressive views of culture, social justice and equality. Peretz wrote about these people with honesty, humor and love in an effort to show his readers how life was in transition for the Jewish soul.'”

Actors Comedy Lab co-founder Bunny Safron says, “Nancy Rich, Rod Rich, and I are each directing one of the three short plays. Nancy and the playwright, Scott Davis, knew each other; and she offered for us to read the plays. We did and fell in love with them.”

Safron says these three one-acts are “beautifully written and they made my heart sing. They all have a major moral.”

Preshow publicity invites Triangle theater goers to “Travel back in time to the tiny shtetl towns of Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th Century. Experience the challenges and triumphs of our alte bobehs and zaydes our great grandmothers and grandfathers as they lived, loved and tried to remain faithful to the religious traditions of their ancestors.”

The preshow publicity provides the following thumbnail descriptions of these three stories illustrating the triumph of the Jewish spirit:

* “Bontshe Shvayg” (“Bontshe the Silent”). Description: “Throughout his hard and painful life on earth, Bontshe was silent; his existence insignificant. But when Bontshe dies, the Heavenly Shofar trumpets his arrival in Paradise. Offered anything his heart desires for his quiet and saintly behavior on earth, Bontshe Shvayg’s humble request stuns and shames the Angels of Heaven.”

* “What Is A Soul?” Description: “Three teachers a stern, by-the-book Talmud teacher; a mystical Chassidic Rebbe; and a ‘free-thinking’ Yiddish writing teacher all compete for the mind, heart and soul of a young Jewish orphan boy.”

* “If Not Still Higher!” Description: “A Litvak, a skeptical Jew from Lithuania, is determined to find out where the Rebbe of Nemirov really goes when he vanishes from the town between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. What the Litvak finds out about tzedakah good deeds changes his life forever.”

Temple Beth Or and Actors Comedy Lab present Souls Are Flying Sunday, Oct. 19, at 2 p.m. and Monday, Oct. 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Beth Or, 5315 Creedmoor Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina. Free Admission. 919/782-1331 or jbsafron@nc.rr.com. Temple Beth Or: http://www.templebethor-raleigh.org/. Actors Comedy Lab: http://www.actorscomedylab.com/upcoming.html.