While some knew him as Jonah and others as Mac, we all loved and respected him. And we miss him dearly.

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Jonah @ PGT: Rachel Berger

“Jonah’s Years at PGT” is The Jonah Maccabee Foundation’s autumn fundraiser for 2013. Throughout November and December 2013, we’ll be remembering, mainly through the writing of his friends, some of the great fun and growing Jonah experienced at PGT. We’re hoping you’ll be inspired to help us provide other kids with similarly loving direction along the road to wholeness during their own childhood years. Please consider making your tax-deductible gift at jonahmac.org by Sunday, January 5, 2014. Okay, or any other time. Thank you. You’re the best!


Rachel Berger remembers …

Rachel Berger

Rachel Berger

Rachel Berger graduated PGT with Jonah in 2008 and is now back at PGT teaching and directing. She is currently directing Shrek the Musical, opening in January 2014!  Rachel graduated Northwestern University in 2012, with a BA in theater, writing, and French.

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Jonah and I were unlikely friends in many ways. The 14-year-old Rachel was type-A to an extreme. I was eager to please the staff. I started learning my lines before I got the script. I was a perfectionist. I cared way too much about how I dressed. I had never broken a rule in my life. The 14-year-old Jonah was very different. Type-B to an extreme, Jonah wore the same over-sized grey shirt every day. He took his time learning his lines. Backstage in shows, he would eat the props (my props!). I recall one time where our director Jeff threw a pen at Jonah because he was so frustrated with him.

Jonah'sYears@PGT.2013.11.BlogAd.Final.largeBut what I learned from being in six shows with Jonah is that you need a little A and a little B. Too much of one doesn’t work. Maybe that’s why we were brought together so many times. Good theater is both polished and messy. I like to think we taught each other a little of our own madness.

Jonah taught me what it means to think with your heart and not your head. Overly analytical, I struggled with this idea. But in my first show with Jonah, A Man of No Importance, Jonah played five very different parts so beautifully. He managed to play a conservative priest and a thug in the same show so convincingly. I asked myself how was he doing it?! I think it was his open spirit. He didn’t judge either character. He understood them without judging them. That idea really changed theater for me (and, you know, life too).

Jonah and Rachel Man of No Importance Dec 2005

Jonah and Rachel
Man of No Importance
Dec 2005

And now that I teach at PGT, I take Jonah with me. From him, I know that playfulness is equally important as hard work. I know that no matter how much you rehearse, you have to leave some room for the improv gods. I teach that understanding doesn’t always start with your brain.



P.S. Please give generously to our Autumn 2013 campaign at jonahmac.org. As always, we are ever grateful for your friendship and support.

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