Concert Reading Performances: May 19-21, 2017
Main Street Landing Black Box Theater, 60 Lake Street
Setting: a few blocks in the “old north end” of Burlington, Vermont
Over the course of two nights and one day, in a small city in rural New England, a Jewish community of immigrants readies itself for the reveal of their first synagogue mural, painted in the folk style traditions of the “old country.” Or so they think. Painter Ben Zion Black, a relative newcomer from Lithuania, has his own drive and artistic way of approaching life. After all, he spent two years traveling around eastern Europe – writing and performing Yiddish poems and theatre, painting whatever needed to be painted, even leading a 30-piece mandolin orchestra! – to earn passage to America, just so he could be reunited with his one true love, Rachel. Rachel’s father, Shimon, had brought his family to America, both to escape oppression under the Czar’s rule, and in large part to keep his daughter away from the itinerant artist. With a kosher vegetarian literary café as the centerpiece, add a stranger, a theft, a community trying to find balance between holding on to old ways and embracing the new, and this moment in time plays out, at once forgotten and also everlasting. This is a story of change, fear, love, art, culture, and ultimately, survival.
Directed by Margo Whitcomb
Ben Zion Black – Timothy Lewis
Rachel Saiger – Emily Lopez
Shimon Saiger – Aaron Masi
Malka Saiger – Kathryn Blume
Hershel – Sam Dickin
Mady – Alex Nicosia
Molly – Sarah Mell
Elias Spear – Jason Lorber
Mrs. Kleinman – Ruth Wallman
Peddler Bella – Deb Gwinn
Beatrice – Emma Blatt
Cafe patrons – Judy Alexander and Bruce Chalmer
Narrator – Raquel Aronhime.
Inspired by real people and events, and the Lost Shul Mural, this play sheds light on a hidden history in Burlington. Two other fascinating Theatre Kavanah events lead up to the play, providing deeper understanding and context for Of the Better Kind. The documentary screening of Little Jerusalem on April 6, 2017 and the film screening of Raise the Roof on May 11th.
Thanks to all who auditioned with us this year. We feel fortunate to live in a community with such a talented group of theatre artists.