By arrangement with Hal Leonard Australia Pty Ltd on behalf of
Dramatists Play Service Inc New York
Australian Premiere Season
Chaim Potok’s 1972 bestseller My Name Is Asher Lev has been deftly adapted by Aaron Posner.
Posner reduces the novel to its essential conflicts, yet rather than diluting the impact he effectively intensifies the immediacy of the emotional payoffs.
This drama may attack relatively familiar ideas in a forthright manner, but its effects manage to be both complex and direct, a concise yet deeply satisfying entertainment. It offers a moving and rich experience, along with a generous helping of theatrical guile.
Asher Lev, growing up a “Torah Jew” in postwar Crown Heights, Brooklyn, by the age of 6 in 1952 already has been seized by his Muse, irresistibly driven to draw and to apprehend the world through the prism of his vision. His parents, Aryeh and Rivkeh, refugees from Stalin’s Soviet Union, are devout followers of the unquestioned authority of the Rebbe, and Aryeh is dedicated to a mission of committed responsibility to support and rescue oppressed Russian Jews, consigning him to constant travel for diplomacy, fundraising, building schools and reclaiming shuls. In his absences, Asher and his mother are particularly close, and she can be supportive of his gift even as his father considers it a waste of time, a distraction from study.
Asher paints his own story, tracing his development from preschooler through adolescence to very early critical and popular success by 22, as he must seek his own path to aesthetic apprenticeship and personal expression despite the painful costs to his faith and family, both of which he nonetheless deeply loves. Ultimately he learns that while creativity may be his true religion, who he is as an artist must be inextricably bound up in his identity as a Jew and as his parents’ son, an upholder of contradicting traditions to which he equally belongs.
The pulsing heart of the matter remains the deeply complicated Rivkeh, an intelligent woman who married young to a charismatic man of conviction and causes, so different and yet in so many ways so like their possessed son. Externally, she must navigate her commitments to both men through their irreconcilable conflicts, and within herself she must adapt and survive her inconsolable griefs and frustrated drives for personal fulfillments.