December 22, 2008
Philadelphia, PA - Arden Theatre Company presents the world premiere of My Name Is Asher Lev
from January 8 through March 15, 2009. Based on the book by Chaim Potok and adapted and directed by Aaron Posner, this is the first play commissioned by the Arden to receive its world premiere on our stage. Arden Tfheatre Company is located at 40 N. 2nd Street, Old City Philadelphia. For tickets, call 215.922.1122 or visit www.ardentheatre.org
My Name Is Asher Lev
tells the story of a young Hassidic artist torn between his observant Jewish community and his need to create. His artistic genius threatens his relationship with his parents and community and weighs heavily on his conscience.
Asher Lev is born with a natural and prodigious artistic gift which clashes with the values of his fiercely Jewish household. His father views painting as foolishness at best, and more often as sacrilege. His mother is torn between her love for her husband and son, her commitment to her community, and her own personal calling. The play chronicles young Asher's coming of age as a boy and an artist amid his turbulent relationship with his father. A secular Jewish artist who becomes Asher's mentor warns him that art and Judaism are equally strong traditions and one cannot commit to both simultaneously. Ultimately, Asher must choose between them.
A cast of three will bring the story of the novel to theatrical life. Karl Miller
stars as Asher. Miller most recently collaborated with Posner starring as Leland Stamper in Posner's adaptation of Sometimes a Great Notion
at Portland Center Stage. Adam Heller
and Gabra Zackman
will between them create the full cast of characters who influence and inspire Asher Lev on his journey - parents, teachers, mentors and friends. Heller, who last appeared at the Arden in Caroline, or Change
, has appeared on Broadway in Caroline, or Change
, Les Miserables
and many others. Regionally he has had starring roles at the Old Globe Theater, Hartford Stage, Denver Center, the Goodspeed and the Kennedy Center. His television credits include OZ
, Law and Order
, and The Sopranos
. Zackman works extensively in regional theatre (Hartford Stage, Nebraska Shakespeare Company, Florida Studio Theatre, Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival) and in New York City and her television credits include Law and Order
and MTV's MADE
Director and adaptor Aaron Posner is one of the co-founders of Arden Theatre Company and currently the Artistic Director of Two River Theatre in Red Bank, NJ. His career has been greatly propelled by his work in the art of literary adaptation. In 1999, the Arden presented Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok's co-adaptation of Potok's classic novel The Chosen
to critical and audience acclaim. Posner, in consultation with Adena Potok, now introduces this world premiere based on Potok's novel, My Name Is Asher Lev
. "I have wanted to stage My Name Is Asher Lev
for almost a decade, and it has had a long and unique gestation process," said Posner. "I am thrilled to finally be bringing it to fruition at the Arden. In 20 years as a professional adaptor and director, the adaptation I did with Chaim of his novel The Chosen
has been a significant highlight of my career. I respond deeply to stories and worlds Chaim weaves so beautifully in his novels, and I am pleased and proud to be able to bring another one to a new audience in a new form."
"The Arden mission is to tell great stories by great storytellers and, for the past twenty years, literary adaptations have been a cornerstone of our work," said Terrence J. Nolen, Producing Artistic Director at the Arden. "Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok's adaptation of The Chosen
is certainly one of the most successful adaptations in our history. Not only was this play embraced by our audiences here in Philadelphia, but The Chosen
has received acclaimed productions at theatres across the country and internationally. In 2005, when we launched the Arden's commissioning program for new plays and musicals, it seemed fitting that one of our first commissions be to Aaron to adapt Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev
. This is a truly great story, and Chaim and Aaron are masterful storytellers. We are thrilled to return to the world of Chaim Potok and to welcome Aaron back to the Arden."
(1929 - 2002) was born in the Bronx to Jewish immigrants from Poland. Potok's years in an Orthodox household and schooling through college stood in stark conflict with the world of literature and art that early captured his imagination. Later he found in Conservative Judaism, with its emphasis on historical evolution of Jewish texts, an intellectual home where his love of Judaism and of secular culture could dynamically interact. Upon ordination he served as a US Army chaplain serving 16 months in Korea in the mid-50's with combat medical and engineer battalions. In 1959 Potok and his young family first settled in Philadelphia where he was scholar in residence at Har Zion Temple and pursued a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. He wrote The Chosen
in Jerusalem, the same year he wrote his dissertation. In 1967 he became editor-in-chief of the Jewish Publication Society of Philadelphia
. He taught writing at Johns Hopkins University and a popular course in philosophy to the Benjamin Franklin Honors Fellows at his alma mater. The Chosen
was followed by other famous works such as The Promise
, My Name Is Asher Lev
and The Gift of Asher Lev
. He also wrote plays and children's literature in addition to non-fiction and short stories.
From the time of her marriage to Chaim Potok in 1958 Adena Potok
was his first reader and editor until his death in 2002. She brought to this role a broad and intensive Jewish background and a deep love and critical eye for writing. Her professional and communal life has been in the fields of social work, education, and theatre. She is chairperson of the Board of Theatre Ariel, Philadelphia's oldest Jewish theatre, and editor-in-chief of The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
, a monthly online journal that addresses the important social political and cultural issues facing the Jewish community. Adena served as artistic consultant to adaptor and director Aaron Posner for My Name Is Asher Lev
This production marks the 29th world premiere at the Arden, the 14th play under the auspices of The Independence New Play Showcase and the first piece the Arden has commissioned through the showcase. Launched in 1999, the New Play Showcase generates support for the creation and development of new works of American theatre. The following are examples of past productions that have been developed through the Showcase: Dex and Julie Sittin' in a Tree
(by Bruce Graham); The Dinosaur Musical
(by Robert and Willie Reale); Opus
(by Michael Hollinger), and Baby Case
(by Michael Ogborn).
My Name Is Asher Lev
is a recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award
. This funding program provides selected Theatre Communications Group (TCG) member theatres with financial resources for increased rehearsal time with the full production team onsite at the theatre. Arden Theatre Company is the only theatre in the country to receive this award for two productions; both My Name Is Asher Lev
and Something Intangible
by Bruce Graham received this award.
This production is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The final dress rehearsal of My Name Is Asher Lev
on Wednesday, January 7 at 8pm is open to the public as a Pay-What-You-Can performance, with all proceeds collected donated to The National Museum of American Jewish History. The Museum serves the Greater Philadelphia region as an important resource for information about Jewish life and culture, exposing visitors to American Jewish history through its changing exhibitions and complementary programming. All seats are general admission, first come, first served for this performance.
My Name Is Asher Lev
previews begin on Thursday, January 8. Preview performances
run January 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13. Opening night
is 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 14. Tickets are $29-48, with discounts available for seniors, students, military and educators. Groups of 10+ enjoy significant discounts; please inquire about group rates. Three-show subscriptions for the 2008/09 season are still available and range in price from $69 - $195. Call the Arden Box Office at 215-922-1122, order online at www.ardentheatre.org
or visit the box office.
The Arden is wheelchair accessible and provides assisted listening devices and large-print programs at every performance. Reservations are required for accessible seating and may be made by calling the Arden's Box Office at 215.922.1122.
My Name Is Asher Lev
By Aaron Posner adapted from the novel by Chaim Potok
Directed by Aaron Posner
Artistic Consultant Adena Potok
Honorary Producers: Carole Haas Gravagno and Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Arts Education Fund
Asher Lev is a young Hassidic artist torn between his observant Jewish community and his need to create. His artistic genius threatens his relationship with his parents and community and weighs heavily on his conscience. In 1999, the Arden presented Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok's co-adaptation of Potok's classic novel The Chosen
to critical and audience acclaim.
Posner, in consultation with Adena Potok, now introduces this world premiere based on Potok's novel, My Name Is Asher Lev
This production is recommended for 8th/9th grade students and older.
Arden Theatre Company
40 N. 2nd Street, Old City Philadelphia
January 8 - March 17, 2009
Pay What You Can final dress rehearsal January 7
Preview performances: January 8 – January 13
Opening night: 7pm Wednesday, January 14
Reviewing members of the press are invited to attend opening night and may reserve tickets by contacting Janine Zappone at firstname.lastname@example.org
$29-$48 for adults depending on the performance chosen
Group discounts available for 10+
Student Rush tickets at the door only five minutes before curtain for $5 cash, pending availability (must present valid student ID)
Call the Box Office at 215.922.1122 or visit www.ardentheatre.org
The Jewish Exponent and Inside Magazine
(resident of New York, NY) - Man
(resident of New York, NY) - Asher
(resident of New York, NY) - Woman
- Set Designer
- Lighting Designer
- Costume Designer
- Sound Designer
- Stage Manager
- Assistant Director
- Artistic Consultant