It's Vilna (a small town in Eastern Europe), it's 1889, and there's yet another pogrom. All the theatres have been closed, except a small Yiddish troupe which has managed to put together a controversial adaptation of the classic Yiddish revenge fantasy, The Golem. Problems arise when the troupe discover that their special opening night guest is the government censor.
That's the story of Vilna's Got A Golem>, Ernest Joselovitz's drama having its New York premiere at the American Jewish Theatre on West 26th St. Jan. 21. The play world-premiered at Philadelphia's Festival Theatre For New Plays in early 1996 and won the Barrymore Award there for Best New Play. Director Lou Jacob, who also staged the piece in Philadelphia, received a Philadelphia Enquirer Citation for Best Director of a Play. Joselovitz's other plays include Hold Onto Your Heart, which was staged at Washington D.C.'s Theatre J.
Starring in the NY Golem are Richard Topol, Scott Rabinowitz, Susan Blackwell, David Ingram, Stan Lachow, Thomas Pasley and Angela Pietropinto and Jason Kravits. Kravits replaces the previously announced Douglas Weston. (Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss, members of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, will offer live musical accompaniment.)
The design team includes David P. Gordon (set), Greco [sic] (costumes), and Thomas Hase (lighting).
Regarding the play, Joselovitz told American Theatre, "Jews are always hated -- that's a fact of life for Jews. This is a play about the aspects of our Jewish culture and ourselves we don't like to acknowledge -- rage. It's justified, and yet we're trained to be ashamed of it. Revenge -- it's very satisfying... You do what you have to do and then live with your guilt, so that your kids will live. It's immoral, but it's also practical." For tickets ($30) and information on Vilna's Got A Golem at the American Jewish Theatre through Feb. 2, call (212) 633-9797.
--By David Lefkowitz