OCTOBER 6 - NOVEMBER 12, 2016
My Name is Asher Lev
By Aaron Posner
Adapted from the novel by Chaim Potok
Directed by Amy Almquist
Featuring Steve Wood, Art Almquist, and Carrie Hill
ABOUT THE PLAY
Based on Chaim Potok’s best-selling novel, MY NAME IS ASHER LEV follows the journey of a young Jewish painter torn between his Hasidic upbringing and his desperate need to fulfill his artistic promise. When his artistic genius threatens to destroy his relationship with his parents and community, young Asher realizes he must make a difficult choice between art and faith. This stirring adaptation of a modern classic presents a heartbreaking and triumphant vision of what it means to be an artist.
“You should see it! Your children should see it! Everyone should see it!” - New York Magazine
Presented by Special Arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York
October 6 - November 12, 2016
Previews: October 6 and 7 at 7:30 PM
Opening Night: Saturday, October 8 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, Friday and Saturday Nights at 7:30 PM
Sunday Matinees at 3:00 PM
Special Saturday Matinee on November 12 at 3:00 PM
Previews & Thursday Tickets: $15
General Admission: $20
Students, Seniors 62+, & Military: $18
Chaim Potok’s novel, My Name is Asher Lev (1972), spent six months on the best-seller list, became a fixture in schools nationwide and still resonates with booklovers nearly 45 years later. Readers identified with Asher’s dilemma of trying to resolve his innate desire to pursue his passion for art, with a strict religious father and community who think such pursuits are a waste of time at best, and at worst, evil. As a novelist, Potok was deeply interested in the way human beings of passion and commitment chart their unique and difficult paths through life, and in this case, when a family, faith and community are fundamentally opposed to that path.
Asher Lev’s search for identity coupled with his drive to create and make meaning through art is a struggle that all artists face. Inspired by the novel, playwright, Aaron Posner distilled the vast scope of Potok’s complex novel and its characters into a ninety-minute, three-actor play while presenting the key issues of the book. Namely, how do we reconcile two conflicting realities within ourselves, when they seem to be mutually exclusive? What is the cost of embracing only one, or rejecting the other, or of trying to balance them simultaneously? As Asher tells us, this dilemma is a mystery, “of the sort theologians have in mind when they talk about words like ‘wonder’ and ‘awe.’”
This production is dedicated to all artists who struggle on their path to create honest, meaningful, resonant work in the face of pressure to do otherwise. My thanks go to the tireless cast who were never satisfied until we got it right, the crew, designers and staff at LTW who are a joy to work with, and to Art who inspires me every day.
- Amy Almquist, Director
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
Aaron Posner is the Artistic Director of Two River Theater Company in Red Bank, New Jersey. He has directed more than 40 productions at the Arden Theatre Company where he was Artistic Director over the last 20+ years. He received a Barrymore Award for his direction of A Midsummer Nights Dream which opened the F. Otto Haas Theatre in 1998, and one (with Chaim Potok) for their adaptation of The Chosen in 1999. Aaron has worked as a director and playwright at major regional theatres including the Folger Shakespeare Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Seattle Rep, Arizona Theatre Company, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, The Alliance Theatre, and many more. The Chosen, and his musical (with composer James Sugg), A Murder, A Mystery & A Marriage are published by Dramatists Play Service. He has won two Helen Hayes Awards, and is an Eisenhower Fellow. He is married to actress, teacher, and four-time Barrymore nominee, Erin Weaver. They live in Middletown, NJ.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chaim Potok 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.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Carrie Hill (Rivkeh Lev, Anna, Rachel) was recently seen at LTW as Melanie in ONE SLIGHT HITCH. Other shows include: THE COLUMNIST (LTW), LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE, FIVE WOMEN WEARING THE SAME DRESS (Arizona Onstage Productions), DEAD MAN'S CELL PHONE (Chicken Lipps Productions - Tucson Weekly's Best Of), DOUBT (Independent Theatre Productions - Tucson Weekly's Best Of), DINNER WITH FRIENDS (Beowulf Alley Theatre), ON THE VERGE, ANTON IN SHOW BUSINESS, BECKY'S NEW CAR, (Sacred Chicken Productions), CHAPTER TWO, HOLY SPIRIT ON GRAND AVE (LTW), IRON KISSES, CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION and AN EMPTY PLATE IN THE CAFE DU GRAND BOEUF (Invisible Theatre - MAC Winner for Best Comedy). Carrie is also the founder of Sacred Chicken Productions.
Amy Almquist (Director) studied acting at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago and received her MFA in Directing for Theatre. She has worked professionally as an actor and director for over 30 years on stage, film and commercials and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Some of her local directing projects include: HEIDI CHRONICLES, DINING ROOM, COME BACK TO THE 5 AND DIME…JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN and LATE ARRIVAL OF THE INCOMING AIRCRAFT (LTW), COMING THROUGH (Southwest Premiere, Invisible Theatre) TO GILLIAN… (Pima Community College) DOUBT (Tucson Premiere, Independent Productions.) She has worked with Redford Films, Missoula Children’s Theatre, Montana Repertory Theatre, Seattle’s Annex Theatre, LaughingStock Comedy Company, National Association of Latino Independent Producers and co-founded the Beowulf Alley Theatre and Gut Instincts Comedy Improv Companies. A few of her local acting productions include: THE LOVE COURSE and A COUPLA WHITE CHICKS…(LTW), THREEPENNY OPERA (Arizona Opera) LETTERS TO SALA (World Premiere), SPINNING INTO BUTTER, KINDERTRANSPORT, LABOR PAINS, SCOTLAND ROAD, LOST IN YONKERS and THE MOUSETRAP (Invisible Theatre), STEEL MAGNOLIAS (AZ Onstage) THE DEAD and A DELICATE BALANCE (Rogue Theatre) CRIMINAL HEARTS and LAUGHINGSTOCK HOLIDAY SHOWS, (Beowulf Alley Theatre). Amy has served on the teaching faculty of the University of Montana and Pima Community College and currently works as a consultant (mypresentationcoach.com) teaching theatre-based strategic communication techniques nationwide to business executives and trial attorneys with the Pentagon’s Army JAG Corps. She is the author of: Authentic, Persuasive and Strategic Communication: A manual for effective courtroom trial advocacy.
Art Almquist (Aryeh Lev, Yitzchok Lev, Rebbe, Jacob Kahn) holds an MFA in Acting and an MA in Performance Theory from the University of Montana. He is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists. He serves as the Theatre Director at Tucson High School, where he has taught Acting and directed plays for over 20 years. His program and plays have won numerous awards, as well as regularly being named one of the best high school theatres in America by the American High School Theatre Festival. As a teacher, he has earned national recognition including being named one of People Magazine’s 2013 Teachers of the Year, and the 2016 winner of the Reba R. Robertson Award for Outstanding Teacher of Drama. Locally, he was named Tucson’s LUMIE award winner for 2006 Arts Teacher of the Year, and Best Director for YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN from the Ben Vereen Awards. Of the nearly 50 productions he has directed at Tucson High, his favorites include: A FLEA IN HER EAR, 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, NOISES OFF, OUR TOWN, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, ALL MY SONS, COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME JIMMY DEAN JIMMY DEAN, RADIUM GIRLS, ZOMBIE PROM, THE CRUCIBLE, THE LARAMIE PROJECT and RUMORS. Art has performed an actor locally in productions of: THE LATE ARRIVAL OF THE INCOMING AIRCRAFT, THE DINING ROOM, RELATIVELY SPEAKING, and THE LOVE COURSE (LTW); DINNER WITH FRIENDS, BLACKBIRD, CRIMINAL HEARTS and LAUGHINGSTOCK HOLIDAY SHOW (Beowulf Alley Theatre); DOUBT (Independent Productions); NOISES OFF (AZ Repertory Theatre); ON THE VERGE (Sacred Chicken); and LITTLE FOOTSTEPS (Invisible Theatre). Art was one of the cofounders of Beowulf Alley here in Tucson and Gut Instincts Comedy Improv Company in Montana. He is an avid film-lover, and won the U.S. Satellite Broadcasting’s “You Be the Movie Critic” contest in 1998; the award, judged by the late Gene Siskel, gave him his own nationwide show for a year called ART THE MOVIE CRITIC, in which he delivered movie reviews. He is delighted to be back at LTW and working with this wonderful company, and even more delighted to be working with his favorite director, Amy.
Steve Wood (Asher) previously appeared on the LTW mainstage in productions of CLOUD 9, ALL MY SONS, MAURITIUS, VISITING MR. GREEN, LOOT, MOLLY SWEENEY, THE COLUMNIST, LAUGHTER ON THE 23RD FLOOR (2015 MAC Award Nomination), NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY, ONE SLIGHT HITCH, and [sic]. He has appeared in a number of productions throughout Tucson, including THE BOOK OF LIZ, SAY YOU LOVE SATAN, ROBOTS VS. FAKE ROBOTS, KILLER JOE, and KITTY KITTY KITTY, BEYOND THERAPY, DIRTY SECRETS, THE GAYEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER, A HUMAN EQUATION, THE LION IN WINTER, ROW AFTER ROW, BURN THIS, DEATH OF A SALESMAN, UNITED, ROUGH MAGIC, SAINT JOAN, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, ANGELS IN AMERICA: MILLENNIUM APPROACHES, TICK TICK...BOOM!, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, ALL IN THE TIMING, 42ND STREET, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, and THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. He is a proud member of the Winding Road Theatre Ensemble.