In 1997, Anita Diamant published The Red Tent, a novel inspired by the Biblical story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, who – despite inspiring one of the bloodiest chapters in early Biblical history – never speaks a word in the text. Diamant gave her a voice and a context that enthralled many readers, and even enraged a few, showing that her work interpreting biblical characters and context had really touched a nerve.
Tonight and tomorrow night, Lifetime Television airs its original two-part miniseries (not written or necessarily sanctioned by Diamant) of The Red Tent, starring Minnie Driver as Leah, Morena Baccarin as Rachel, Iain O’Glen as Jacob and Rebecca Ferguson as Dinah. After catching part one at a screening, it occurred to me that what this interpretation of Diamant’s book (itself an interpretation of and vast extrapolation from the biblical text) required was group watching, plust a bit of alcohol. (Friends who not consume alcohol may substitute caffeine. Friends who consume neither alcohol nor caffeine are probably not reading this because they are out being productive citizens who sleep 8 hours night. But feel free to substitute another fizzy beverage that will at least enable you to belch like those who are indulging.)
The following educational drinking game is inspired by part one, but I can imagine that many of these rules will hold throughout the mini-series.
Before you start….
Invite your friends
Step Into My Tent
Join a select group of friends inside my virtual tent, to see the story of Jacob’s wives and their only daughter, Dinah, through the lens of a Lifetime movie.
Snacks, drinks and drinking game will be provided. Imbibe at your own risk.
RSVPs helpful; review of biblical and non-biblical texts suggested but not required.
Gather your ingredients
A bottle of arak, wine, or a pitcher of the biblically inspired liquor or specially-themed drink of your choice:
- Matriarch Mojito (Mojito with a splash of pomegranate juice)
- Patriarch Patron (tequila on the rocks, with a splash of pomegranate juice)
- Prince of Shechem (mulled red wine with a clove floating on top)
- Jacob (house wines, suitable for sitting in tents or for drinking after a long 14 years of working to earn your wives)
- Esau (whiskey, to put hair on your arms and chest)
- Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat (Midori, Absinthe, Blue Curacao and grenadine with a splash of Sunkist Orange and Mountain Dew Code Red; blend with ice and serve; may also cause you to vomit in Technicolor, so, cool.)
Shot glasses for your guests
A copy of the book that started it all (The Bible, or an online text version that you can use during the screening - try sefaria.org)
A copy of the other book that re-started it all (The Red Tent)
Day of the party
Find your remote
This will come in handy, as you’ll need to pause the presentation at various points (see Drinking Game Rules, below). Either DVR in advance, or watch somewhere live where you can pause the broadcast.
Bookmark your texts
Bookmark the story of Dinah in the Bible, and choose four random pages from The Red Tent. You'll need these later.
Drinking Game Rules
Identify someone to serve as Remote Deity – this person will hold the remote and be in charge of pausing, rewinding etc during the screening. This is a position of great power and should not be abused. Choose someone fair and responsible, or the host of the party, who may or may not also be fair and responsible.
1) Whenever someone at your party says, “Wait a minute – that didn’t happen in the Bible!” or “Um, is that really what happened in the Bible?”, the Remote Deity pauses the broadcast and everyone drinks. Then people choose sides – “It Did Happen” or “It Didn’t Happen.” Then people look it up in the respective Bibles and who ever is wrong, drinks again. Conflicts in consensus or disagreements will be decided by the Remote Deity. (This solitary rule could actually constitute the entire drinking game, but for variety’s sake, here are a few more.)
2) When the dialogue gets too cheesy and someone groans or says, “seriously?”, “oh, please…” or “come on!!!” everyone takes a Lactaid pill and has to admit to a digestive disorder that runs in their family.
3) When an actor’s accent seems erratic or wrong for the role they’re playing, dramatically yell, “ACTING!!!” Master Thespian-style. The Remote Deity must pause the broadcast, and everyone drinks. Then have an accent competition, and everyone votes. Best accent wins (criteria for “best” to be determined by the Remote Deity) and everyone else has to drink.
4) If someone wonders, “Where is that actor from?”, causing someone to search on IMDB, everyone drinks.
5) Whenever a character’s name is mispronounced or changed from its original Biblical/biblical form, everyone drinks.
6) When something – action, dialogue, hairstyle, sex scene etc – strikes you as “too modern” or “anachronistic,” yell “LIFETIME TELEVISION!” Pause for debate. Divide into teams of “Agree” and “Disagree.” Remote Deity determines which team is correct and the losing team drinks.
7) Between the first and second half of the mini-series, pause for a mid-midseries stretch, and to determine who’s driving people home. Once that is decided, sing the traditional song:
Take me out of the Torah
Take me out of this book
Buy me some cable and DVR
The story here went a little too far
It’s our roots, roots, roots in this movie
They’ve strayed so far it’s a shame
But it won’t…stop…us from our playing this drin…king…game!
8) After the mini-series has concluded, divide into two teams. One takes The Bible, the other takes The Red Tent. Each team must read the designated pages dramatically, and the Remote Deity chooses a winner. The Remote Deity may then choose to inform the teams of the decision immediately, or to wait and render that decision on Yom Kippur by inscribing the winning team members in the Book of Life, which is also soon to be a major mini-series from Lifetime Television*.
Joyous jousting with texts to you all, with many glasses raised in celebration of the creative tradition of interpretation.
*That was a joke, people.