A silent father, an ancient tradition and an unexpectedly important game of baseball forge bonds of lifelong friendship between two Jewish boys from "five blocks and a world apart" in Aaron Posner's award-winning adaptation of Chaim Potok's award-winning novel, The Chosen, coming to Portland Center Stage this spring. The Chosen previews on Tuesday April 6, opens on Friday, April 9 and runs through May 2, 2010. Tickets start at $32.00, with student and under 30 discounts available. Rush tickets for The Chosen are $20. Show times are 7:30 pm Tuesday through Saturday, with a 2:00 pm Sunday matinee and alternating Saturday 2:00 pm and Sunday 7:30 pm performances. See the show calendar http://tickets.pcs.org/buytickets/calendar.asp for the complete performance schedule.
Two worlds collide beneath the shadow of an ancient tradition when a young Hasidic boy knocks a ball right into the eye of his Orthodox rival at a baseball game between their two yeshivas. The batter is Danny Saunders, the brilliant hereditary heir apparent to his father Reb Saunders, the leader of an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic sect. The pitcher is Reuven Malter, son of David, a modern Orthodox humanist professor whose writings are hated by Reb Saunders. Danny's line drive puts Reuven in the hospital, but guilt draws him to visit, and the most unlikely of friendships develop.
Over time, Danny's intellectual curiosity about the secular world draws him towards the Malter family, where he finds the warmth that his father (who refuses to speak to Danny except when studying the Talmud) has denied. Then World War II ends, bringing the possibility of a Jewish state. A heated disagreement between the fathers about the nascent state of Israel results in Reb Saunders forbidding Danny to speak to Reuven. The silence between them strains (and ultimately transforms) their relationships to their families, their faiths and each other. As they each walk the careful line between their own dreams for the future and the paths their fathers have chosen for them, both boys discover that sometimes the most critical choice you can make is the choice...of a friend.
Novelist Chaim Potok was a writer and Orthodox Rabbi. From 1964 to 1975, Potok edited Conservative Judaism and also served as editor, from 1965-1974, of the Jewish Publication Society. In 1965, Potok was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Potok edited the p'shat (plain meaning) commentary of the Rabbinical Assembly's groundbreaking 2000 edition of the chumash, Etz Hayim. His major works include The Chosen, The Promise, My Name is Asher Lev, Davita's Harp, I Am the Clay, The Gift of Asher Lev, Zebra and Other Stories, and Old Men at Midnight. Potok has been awarded The Edward Lewis Wallant Award (The Chosen), The Athenaeum Prize (The Promise), The National Jewish Book Award for Fiction (The Gift of Asher Lev), Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters (La Sierra University, 1997) and the Jewish Cultural Achievement Award (1997). Dr. Potok died of brain cancer in Merion, Pennsylvania, on July 23, 2002.
Adaptor Aaron Posner is a director and playwright. He wrote and directed Portland Center Stage's 2008 world premiere production of Sometimes a Great Notion. He was the founding artistic director of Philadelphia's Arden Theatre Company, and the former artistic director of Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey. Aaron has directed more than 100 professional productions at major theaters across the country, including Seattle Rep, Arizona Theatre Company, the Alliance Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Folger Shakespeare Theatre and many more. His adaptation of The Chosen with Chaim Potok was originally presented by the Arden and City Theatre and won the 1999 Barrymore Award for Best New Play. Other adaptations include another Chaim Potok novel, My Name Is Asher Lev and So It Goes, from short stories by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Aaron is an Eisenhower Fellow, holds a B.S. in performance studies from Northwestern University, and is originally from Eugene, Oregon.
The Chosen is directed by Portland Center Stage Artistic Director Chris Coleman.
In a production of fathers and sons, you may find the fathers in this production eerily familiar. David Margulies (playing tzaddik Reb Saunders) is most recognizable for a stint playing Tony Soprano's lawyer on The Sopranos. Veteran character actor John Rothman (playing Orthodox Rabbi David Malter) has scores of TV credits and some memorable turns in The Devil Wears Prada, Gettysburg and Ghostbusters. Playing the sons are Seattle-based actor Matthew Boston as Older Reuven, Carter Hudson as Young Reuven and Jonathan David Martin as Danny Saunders.
Recreating the world of 1940s Williamsburg will be scenic designer Michael Olich and lighting designer Kimberly Scott. Portland Center Stage's assistant costume shop manager, Lindsay Kleinman, will be taking lead as costume designer for this show (her first PCS design credit). Resident sound designer Casi Pacilio will create the soundscape of a Brooklyn neighborhood.
Additional support for this production has been provided by Madeline Nelson & Jim Lafky. Media support has been provided by Kink.fm.
Portland Center Stage's 2009/10 season is funded in part by the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Work for Art; the Oregon Arts Commission; the Paul G.Allen Family Foundation; Joanne Lilley; Helen & Jerry Stern and Tim & Mary Boyle.
PORTLAND CENTER STAGE inspires our community by bringing stories to life in unexpected ways. Established in 1988 as an off shoot of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, PCS became an independent theater in 1994 and has been under the leadership of Artistic Director Chris Coleman since May 2000. The company presents a blend of classic, contemporary and original productions in a conscious effort to appeal to the eclectic palate of theatergoers in Portland. PCS also offers a variety of education and outreach programs for curious minds from six to 106, including discussions, classes, workshops and partnerships with organizations throughout the Portland metro area.
THE GERDING THEATER AT THE ARMORY houses a 599-seat Main Stage and the 200-seat black box Ellyn Bye Studio. It was the first building on the National Register of Historic Places, and the first performing arts venue, to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification. The Gerding Theater at the Armory opened to the public on Oct. 1, 2006. The capital campaign to fund the renovation of this hub for community artistic activity continues.
Photo Credit: Owen Carey