Ad: [ ? ]
TODAY

Tuesday, October 21

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


A/C
« A Return for Renegade Craft Fair Life After Beth, A Five Star Life, The Last of Robin Hood, The Congress & The Identical »

Theater Tue Sep 02 2014

Timeline Explores the Power of Art to Hurt and to Heal in My Name Is Asher Lev

GB-AsherLev.jpg
Photo by Lara Goetsch.

Asher Lev is an artist, a fresh-faced, cherubic artist whose paintings horrify his deeply religious Hasidic parents and community. "My gift is demonic and divine. It has the power to hurt and the power to heal," he says at the end of this eloquent 90-minute rumination on the challenges of art and faith, family and responsibility.

Timeline Theatre is staging the Chicago premiere of My Name Is Asher Lev, written by Aaron Posner and adapted from the best-selling 1972 novel about the Brooklyn Hasidic community by author and rabbi Chaim Potok. The three-actor play, directed by Kimberly Senior, is staged on a two-level set with three musicians at side stage. Andrew Hansen's original score for clarinet, cello and violin creates a subtly beautiful undercurrent to the dialogue and ends the play with a klezmer flourish.

Alex Weisman gives Asher a believable solemnity and commitment to his family and his religion as his passion for his art deepens. Lawrence Grimm and Danica Monroe both are excellent as Asher's parents and in other roles. Grimm is particularly strong as the famous painter Jacob Kahn, a nonobservant Jew who discovers the talented Asher as a 13-year-old and takes him on to mentor and train him as an artist.

Asher presents us with the intellectual and emotional conflict of his life in his opening lines:

My name is Asher Lev.
The Asher Lev.
The notorious and legendary Lev, the painter of the Brooklyn Crucifixions.
I am an observant Jew. A Hasid. What some call a Torah Jew.
And, yes, of course, observant Jews do not paint crucifixions.

And later he explains how he came to be an artist.

I have no recollection of when I first began to use my gift... It seems to have always been with me. A fact of my life. Like eating, sleeping, being a male, being Jewish. I cannot remember a time when I was not transferring the world around me to pieces of paper, margins of books, napkins, my mashed potatoes, whatever came to hand."

Asher guides us through the course of this moving play with a series of short monologues and commentaries upon the scenes on stage. We meet him first as a 12-year-old, whose mother finally has finally taken him to visit an art museum. His resulting drawings are copies of what he sees, including nudes and crucifixions. Despite his parents' objections, these images continue to fascinate him as he develops talent and fame as an artist. And they result in his ultimate breach with his family and his faith.

It turns out that Kahn's most prescient advice to Asher is, "As an artist you are responsible to no one and nothing except to yourself and to the truth as you see it! An artist is responsible to his art! Just that. Anything else is propaganda."

Senior's direction perfectly tunes the pace and timing of this stirring story and the three actors carry out their roles with emotional depth. Brian Sidney Bembridge's lighting and scenic design create a space of dark woods that change easily from family kitchen to office to studio. The upper level space and the stairs leading to it serve as Asher's gallery and his studio. Elise Kauzlaric's dialect coaching has worked very well, especially in helping Weisman develop Asher's Brooklyn accent.

My Name Is Asher Lev continues through Oct. 18 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Performances are at varying times Wednesday through Sunday with a few Tuesday shows. Tickets are $37-50 and can be bought online or by calling 773-327-5252. Pre-show and post-show discussions are planned for a number of dates throughout the run. More information is available here.

 

Add a Comment




Please enter the letter k in the field below:



Live Comment Preview


Notes & Tags

Items marked with a * are required fields. Please respect each other. We reserve the right to delete any comments borne out of douchebaggery or that deal in asshattery.

Permitted tags and how to use them:

To link: <a href="http://blahblahblah.com">Link text</a>
To italicize: <em>Your text</em>
To bold: <strong>Your text</strong>

Film Wed Oct 08 2014

Chicago International Film Festival's Mimi Plauché Talks About CIFF's 50th Anniversary & This Year's Films

By Steve Prokopy

Steve talks with CIFF Programming Director Mimi Plauché about the festival's anniversary, special programming, and her favorites from this year's lineup.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Oct 17 2014

Fury, Whiplash, The Good Lie, The Best of Me, The Book of Life, St. Vincent, Keep On Keepin' On & 20,000 Days on Earth

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

Blogroll

ACRE
An Angry White Guy
Antena
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Collaboraction
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Defibrillator
Devening Projects
Digressions
DIY Film
ebersmoore
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
HollywoodChicago
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
InCUBATE
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
J-Pointe
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Marquee
Mess Hall
N'DIGO
Neoteric Art
NewcityArt
NewcityFilm
NewcityStage
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Onstage
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
Performink
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
SAIC Blog
The Seen
Sharkforum
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Steppenwolf.blog
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
threewalls
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Vocalo
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

 

Events

Tue Oct 21 2014
Pechakucha @ Martyrs'

Tue Oct 21 2014
Write Club @ Hideout

Tue Oct 21 2014
John Hodgman @ UP Comedy Club

Thu Oct 23 2014
Cao Fei: Haze & Fog @ Gene Siskel Film Center

Thu Oct 23 2014
Panel Discussion with Photography Susan Meiselas

Fri Oct 24 2014
Project Recall: HCL @ Mana Contemporary

Fri Oct 24 2014
Opening Reception: Andrew Barco and Eddie Breitweiser @ ThreeWalls

Fri Oct 24 2014
Sketchbook Swap Exhibition @ Jupiter Outpost

Sat Oct 25 2014
The Shit Show @ Collaboraction Theater

Sat Oct 25 2014
20x2 Chicago @ Schubas

Sat Oct 25 2014
Opening Reception: Thresh/hold @ Roman Susan ANNEX

Sun Oct 26 2014
The Adventures of Danny & Mike @ Lincoln Hall

Sun Oct 26 2014
Opening Reception: Nicole Dyer & Matt Hilvers @ South of the Tracks

Sun Oct 26 2014
Opening Reception @ PEREGRINEPROGRAM

Sun Oct 26 2014
Beat Swap Meet @ Empty Bottle


A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.



About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: LaShawn Williams, ldw@gapersblock.com
A/C staff inbox: ac@gapersblock.com

Archives

 

A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15

Newsletter

Sign up for our free email newsletter I Star Chi and get a weekly round-up of the best of Gapers Block, plus our picks for must-do events each weekend!

istarchi

Preferred format    Preferred format