Welcome to TimeLine’s 18th season! We’re thrilled to share a new collection of plays with you—all new to Chicago.
Tonight we open the Chicago premiere of Aaron Posner’s adaptation of Chaim Potok’s beloved novel My Name is Asher Lev. And once again we’re performing at Stage 773, outside our home on Wellington Avenue so that we can expand our audience, making it easier for you to experience our work and introduce TimeLine to others.
It also allows us to do two shows at once! A few blocks away on Wellington this fall, you’ll be able to see Dominic Orlando’s Danny Casolaro Died for You (September 23 – December 21). Then later this winter we have the theatrical event of two of Richard Nelson’s acclaimed Apple Family Plays (performed separately on alternating nights), followed in the spring by Michele Lowe’s Inana.
But first, My Name is Asher Lev.
While a work of fiction, the story is rooted in Potok’s personal experiences and the history and culture of Hasidism in Brooklyn after World War II. We follow the journey of young Asher’s artistic evolution, torn between his religious upbringing and his aspiration to be a painter. The play unquestionably examines the intersection of faith and artistry. But it’s also about the struggles we face to find our life’s calling, especially when that pursuit clashes with our family, culture or heritage.
Whether your own bold venture includes questioning your faith, sexuality, political ideology, family trade, or the community in which you were raised—you’ll find a kindred spirit in Asher as he courageously forges his own path.
Although Asher’s paintings play an enormous role in the story, the script specifically asks that his work remain in your imagination, to empower you to envision Asher’s artistic style for yourself. (For those who wish to dig deeper, an internet search will lead you to the art of Chaim Potok, himself a painter who created images similar to some mentioned in the play.)
Potok—an artist in many respects and fields—fashioned a distinguished career as a novelist during the later 20th Century with work that often grappled with young Orthodox Jewish characters trying to assimilate into modern America. More recently his writing has transformed eloquently to the stage thanks to playwright Aaron Posner, who also adapted the much-lauded The Chosen.
We enthusiastically welcome back one of our favorite collaborators, Kimberly Senior, just before she makes her Broadway debut directing the Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced by Ayad Akthar. When I first mentioned My Name is Asher Lev to her, I knew immediately that we’d found the perfect match. She exclaimed over the phone her deep love for the novel, noting that the pages of her paperback are marked with tears from first reading it years ago.
Kimberly and her team of designers have created a canvas on stage that can be as transformative as that of Asher’s, complemented by three musicians fusing Andrew Hansen’s compositions into this moving story.
I hope you will join us at Stage 773, and I look forward to our conversations throughout 2014-15.