This past weekend The Chosen went up with much success getting positive review after positive review from its audiences. The Chosen, adapted from the novel by Chaim Potok, portrays a story of two Orthodox Jewish students in the 1940’s who, through their friendship, further explore the relationship with their religion as well as explore the complex relationship with their fathers. Following the Sunday, October 21 matinee performance, Director Daniel Gidron and the cast, Charles Linshaw, Zachary Eisenstat, Joel Colodner, Will McGarrahan, and Luke Murtha, all joined our Associate Artistic Director Nora Long for a talk back on the production process and their experiences with the performances thus far.
The talkback began with a question about the challenges they faced in production and finding their characters. “[We were] trying to get the richness and life of the novel portrayed through just five characters on a stage,” said Gidron. With the adaptation relying on heavy content from the novel, working with an adaptation that story and condensing it into two short hours on stage proved difficult, but ultimately rewarding. The actors themselves found that fitting so much personality into their characters was also difficult, but as Luke Murtha, who plays Danny Saunders, said, “So is any role, every role is different and has its own challenges. He paused and added, “Learning Yiddish was hard though.”
During the rehearsal period, a Yiddish coach came to teach the actors the proper usage of certain words and to give a lesson on Jewish Orthodoxy. There are many nuanced differences between sects of Orthodox Jews, so the cast had to be careful to differentiate to give a full accurate performance. Many of the actors approached their characters as any other character they would portray: “someone you have to understand and emulate.”
Audience members were perplexed by how honest and beautiful the acting was from the cast, some of whom were faced with the challenge of learning Yiddish understanding a culture completely different from theirs. For some of the actors, the novel served as a source for further research on their characters. The entire cast affirmed that Gidron did an amazing job of pulling his actors back, or pushing them forward, getting from them the honest performance he knew they could deliver. It certainly worked: several members of the audience expressed having been moved to tears.
Another talkback will be available following the Sunday, November 4th performance of The Chosen.