Photo Flash: Acorn Presents THE WORLD OF SHOLOM ALEICHEM
Acorn Productions, a non-profit organization dedicated to nurturing and developing the performing arts in Southern Maine, begins a new holiday tradition for the Jewish community in Southern Maine with a production of The World of Sholom Aleichem, by Arnold Perl, which performs from December 2 to 19, 2010. The play is directed by veteran actor Harlan Baker, and features a cast of local actors, including members of the Acorn Shakespeare Ensemble, students from the Acorn Acting Academy, and several guest artists. The play is a collection of three short plays depicting life in Eastern Europe Jewish communities in the early part of the twentieth century. Mendele the bookseller is the narrator who links the three one-act plays together. Performances take place Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. in the Acorn Studio Theater, a small, black-box theater in the Dana Warp Mill, 90 Bridge St. in Westbrook. Note that in observance of the Jewish Sabbath, there are no performances on Friday night. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 students and seniors, and may be purchased by calling 854-0065 or visiting www.acorn-productions.org.
American playwright Arnold Perl sought to capture the spirit of the well-known Jewish author Sholom Aleichem with this piece that debuted off Broadway in 1953. The World of Sholom Aleichem is a trio of plays, of which only the last one, "The High School," is directly based on an Aleichem story. Sholom Aleichem is the pen name for Salamon Rabinovich, who was born in the Ukraine in 1859 and died in New York City in 1916. He is probably best known for his story "Tevye the Milkman," which formed the basis for the popular musical "Fiddler on the Roof." The play was revived off Broadway in 1982 and has rarely been produced in Maine. Acorn's Production features Karen Ball, Joshua Brassard, HAl Cohen, Josh Cohen, Sven Johnson, Suzanne Lowell, Julia Reddy, April Singley, Johnny Speckman, Gail Wartell, and Dixie Weisman.
The first play in The World of Sholom Aleichem is "A Tale of Chelm," which provides a lighthearted overview of the residents of a shtetl that was celebrated for its population of good natured fools. The second play, "Bontsche Schweig," is actually based on a story by Y.L. Peretz, a contemporary of Aleichem. The story is set in Heaven, where the soul of the newly-departed "Bontsche the Silent" arrives to receive judgment. It may be said of him that even Job got off more easily. The third play is an adaptation of Aleichem's story "The High School." It focuses on a Jewish merchant who is cajoled by his loving but somewhat pushy wife to help prepare their teenage son for high school. However, in Czarist Russia the schools have severe quotas designed to prevent Jews from attending.
Acorn Productions Studio Series provides a showcase for local playwrights and students from the Acorn Acting Academy. The series includes 4 plays for adults, 3 of which are by local playwrights, and 3 plays presented by the Fairy Tale Players, who offer "fractured" original adaptations of well-known fairy tales such as the recently-concluded The Three Billy Goats Gruff. These plays are presented chamber-theater style, placing the emphasis on character and action over slick production values. Each production also features one or more professional actors, usually members of Acorn's "Naked Shakespeare" Ensemble, serving as mentors to the student actors. The Acorn Studio Theater is a 90-seat "black box" theater with a raised staged and flexible seating. Ticket prices for Acorn's Studio Series are extremely affordable, ensuring access to high-quality arts entertainment for all members of the Metro West community, regardless of economic means.
Acorn Productions is currently in its thirteenth season of nurturing and developing the performing arts in our community. Previously, Acorn was the in-house Production Company at the old Oak Street Theater, and later collaborated with Friends of St. Lawrence to renovate the Parish Hall Theater, which the company opened with a production of Much Ado About Nothing in May of 2001. Since that time, Acorn has focused on events that enable project directors to establish long-term relationships with performing artists and playwrights, establishing a popular and eclectic series of annual events that appeal to a broad range of the community. In the fall of 2006, the company moved into the Dana Warp Mill in Westbrook, creating Acorn Studios, a low-cost complex of rehearsal and workshop space for use by the community. In addition to a season of public performances, Acorn offers acting classes for kids and adults, and a series of Friday dramatic readings of new scripts at Acorn Studios.
Who: Acorn Productions Studio Series
When: December 2 to 19, 2010
Thursday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 5 at 5 p.m.
Thursday, December 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 12 at 5 p.m.
Thursday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 19 at 5 p.m.
Where: Acorn Studio Theater, Dana Warp Mill, 90 Bridge St. Westbrook
How Much: $10 adults, $8 students and seniors
FMI: 854-0065 or www.acorn-productions.org