ASTONISHED LIVES
Main Character Profiles

THE AMERICANS

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Lenny

A good hearted Jewish man in his 40's. He used to be a pro soccer player and still has an athletic looking body, although he hates gyms. He's thoughtful, and tends to be a brooder, but has a playful side and a quick sense of humor. He's definitely old school, and a romantic, though not overtly emotional in public, compared to when he's at home with his wife. Overall, he comes off as a Type A extrovert, with an at times tough macho facade that masks his innate sensitivity. He has a complicated attitude towards his Jewish identity, being both proud of his heritage, and conflicted about certain aspects of it, particularly conventional religious and radical political practices to which he does not subscribe. Lenny is a bit of a lone wolf, and is suspicious of 'received wisdom' about anything really. Originally from the East Coast, he prefers the easier going life in California. As a rule he doesn't care about what clothes he's wearing, but 'cleans up' well, and can be a real gentleman. Bottom line, he's a mensch.

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Maddie

An attractive woman of about 50, with a lively wit and intellect. She excelled in her career as an Emergency Management Planner, and is a serious reader, though she doesn't flaunt her knowledge. She's down to earth and direct, though arguably more introverted than her husband, though she also has a wicked sense of humor. She's a free thinker, with a great sense of joie de vivre, and a winning personality. Her deep well of empathy and generous spirit make her a loyal friend. She's a native Californian with a laid back bohemian West Coast sensibility. She dresses well, if somewhat unconventionally.

                                         

'GIVENS'  RE. BATTLING MADDIE'S CANCER

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MADDIE shows courage and a no nonsense stoicism in the face of her worsening condition, although her moods fluctuate between adopting a brave attitude and increasing existential panic, as her body and brain react adversely to the rigors of endless tests, radiation and chemo treatments, and medications. She will alternate between bouts of insomnia and over-sleeping, with the occasional panic attack. Despite all that, she almost never loses her wry sense of humor.

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LENNY too puts on a brave front, wanting to fight this war with and for his wife to the utmost of his love and capabilities, but ultimately he too will succumb to fatigue and fear, though he will do his best not to let Maddie see his escalating distress.

THE ARAB-ISRAELI

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Zahra

A pretty brunette Israeli/Palestinian woman in her 30's, who speaks fluent English as well as Hebrew and Arabic, with a low timbre voice. She dresses casually, but in a style indicative of her feisty personality. She's a cabaret singer, and her inclination towards melancholy blues and jazz reveals her old-school sensibility. She's a romantic with a quick wit, smart and intuitively tuned to vibrations within and without. She has charm and a good heart, but can also be moody, and painfully vulnerable. She's a free spirit, unconventional in her mores, but despite her winning youthfulness and energy, Zahra is 'an old soul'.

 

SUPPORTING ROLES

IN ISRAEL

Dora  A thin vaguely aristocratic woman of about 80, who uses a cane. She's weathered looking and plain spoken, but also refined, with a dry sense of humor and a German inflected Israeli accent. She's a Holocaust survivor, who was in Auschwitz as a child, and is a long-time resident of a kibbutz. 

Judith  Middle aged, maybe 45, tall. She has a seductive aura, with piercing eyes and a dazzling smile. She speaks with a cultivated French accent and is fashionably dressed, although she wears an Orthodox style bonnet. She believes  in reincarnation, hears spirits, and is into the Kabbalah. 

Saul Mandelbaum  A spry older well dressed Jewish man, resident  of Safed. 

Tel Aviv Gett Driver A grizzled older man, sports a colorful yarmulke; talkative, lonely, and a big football fan. 

Tel Aviv ' Black Hat' Recruiter  A gentle giant, late 20's.

Tel Aviv Used Car Salesman  40's, male, aggressive.

Tel Aviv Escort (Female) 20's, attractive, wears wigs. 

Ramallah Exit Checkpoint Guard (Israeli) (nicknamed 'Ari')* Main Guard, in his twenties. (*good-looking in a somewhat Aryan way.) 

Kashif  Palestinian. (Zahra's ex.) About 40, expensively dressed, suavely good looking, with a well groomed mustache. A hustler, who loves poetry.

WEST BANK RESIDENTS

Fatima  Palestinian. Zahra's older half-sister. 40. Heavy-set, with a wicked sense of humor. 

Hamza  Palestinian. Zahra's cousin, 10 years old, a football fan.

Atiq  Palestinian. Early 20's, but looks younger; handsome. 

IN CALIFORNIA

Sharon  50, smart, with a cheerful personality. A lawyer, and a professional colleague and close friend of Maddie's, who worked with her in the city's Emergency Management Dept.

Doc  An elegant African American man, mid 50's, a vet (as in animal doctor); married to Sally, and a devout Christian. Close friend of Lenny and Maddie's. 

Maggie's Doctor (Lo) A Korean gentleman in his 50's.

Fire Dept. First Responder  White Male, 40's

Coroner & EMT Team  Hispanic Male, 60's. M/F EMT Team.

American 'Chorus'  ('Background' Extras.)

Various Female 'Goddesses'  (American) Sally, Chick, Naomi, all late 40's or so. California gals. 

Party Musicians for East Bay event (guitarists, drummer, vocalist)

ISRAELI 'EXTRAS'

Ramallah Border Checkpoint Soldiers (M & F, half a dozen or so.)

Zhara's (band/s) A stand-up bass player, a keyboard player, and a percussionist. 

Safed Reform Synagogue members, Minyan members, including a female cantor. (eight.)

Religious Men (scholars and practitioners of all faiths : )  Ministers, Priests, Monks, Rabbis, and Muslim holy men.

Hitchhikers including soldiers, alone or as a couple; plus various pilgrims and 'black hats', etc.

Woman on the road, in distress. 

A traveling group of Yeshiva Bookers on the road in an old Cadillac. (four or five men) 

Kibbutz Residents Male and Female, with a few children.

Various Venders (Israeli Tattooed Kaleidoscope/Dreidel Man) (Arab ice cream salesman.)

Armed Security Guards seen in Israel, and on the West Bank (PNA)