Wilma Theater Brings Nobel Laureate's Enemies, A Love Story to Stage

News   Wilma Theater Brings Nobel Laureate's Enemies, A Love Story to Stage
Enemies, A Love Story, Sarah Schulman's stage adaptation of the novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer, gets its world premiere Feb. 7 at The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia.

Wilma's co-artistic director Jiri Zizka directs the tale created by the 20th century master storyteller who received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Continuing to March 11, Enemies, A Love Story is a participant in the Philadelphia New Play Festival: Where Theatre Begins, a program of the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. Many Philly troupes are offering new works between Feb. 8-18.

According to The Wilma, Enemies, which opens Feb. 14, "finds New York City in 1949 blushing with excitement. The war is over, and new hope rises. Herman, a Holocaust survivor, falls in love again, and again, and again. Overcome with guilt and facing the intricacy of pleasing his three wives, he questions his spirituality and God's order on the Lower East Side, Coney Island, and in the Bronx. Enemies, A Love Story is a bittersweet, yet humorous tale of a man stumbling towards enlightenment, striving to escape his past but unable to escape his women."

The cast of seven features (in alphabetical order) Robert Ari as Visitor, Kati Brazda as Yadwiga, Laura Flanagan as Tamar, Elizabeth Rich as Masha, Morgan Spector as Herman, Barbara Spiegel as Shifrah and Tom Teti as the Rabbi.

The design team includes set designer David P. Gordon, costume designer Janus Stefanowicz and lighting designer Jerrold R. Forsyth. Jorge Cousineau designs the sound in his first collaboration with Jiri Zizka. *

"Enemies, A Love Story" was first serialized in the Yiddish language The Jewish Daily Forward in 1966, and translated to English in 1972. It was adapted as an award-winning movie by Paul Mazursky in 1989.

The novel was his first story set after the Holocaust and in New York.

"I first read 'Enemies, A Love Story' in the mid-70s and fell in love with its poetic style, detailed characters and subversive humor," said director Jiri Zizka, in a statement. "Revisiting this novel and staging a world premiere of Sarah Schulman's vibrant adaptation gives us many opportunities to examine the consequences of unresolved trauma. It is extremely inspiring to me that both Singer and Schulman tackle this theme with warm-hearted humor that exudes love for their characters."

As a native of the Lower East Side whose grandmother emigrated from Poland and lived with her family, Schulman was exposed to Yiddish all her life, often attending the Yiddish theatre on Second Avenue with her grandmother and studying Yiddish at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, according to Wilma notes.

"I grew up surrounded by people with numbers on their arms, and went to high school with plenty of kids whose parents were survivors," said Schulman, in production notes. "Enemies, A Love Story ironically depicts human beings who are not heroic, not enlightened, struggling to cope with inexplicable experiences. As a result, the work is edgy, unpredictable and — most importantly — deeply funny."

Schulman’s plays include Manic Flight Reaction (Playwrights Horizon) and Carson McCullers (Sundance/Playwrights Horizons), and she is the author of eight novels including "Shimmer," "Rat Bohemia" and "People in Trouble," as well as two nonfiction books: "My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan/Bush Years" and "Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America."

The Wilma Theater is at 265 South Broad Street. For more information, visit www.wilmatheater.org or call (215) 546-7824.

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