Chaim Potok’s ‘Asher Lev’ Gets Stage Treatment at Barrington Stage

Chaim Potok, author of "My Name Is Asher Lev"

Chaim Potok, author of "My Name Is Asher Lev"

(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – My Name Is Asher Lev, a play based on the acclaimed novel by Chaim Potok, opens this week at Barrington Stage Company. Adapted for the stage and directed by Aaron Posner, My Name Is Asher Lev, which follows the journey of a young Jewish painter torn between his Hasidic upbringing and his desperate need to fulfill his artistic promise, runs from August 18 through September 11.

When his artistic genius threatens to destroy his relationship with his parents and community, young Asher Lev realizes he must make a difficult choice between art and faith. This stirring adaptation of a modern classic presents a heartbreaking and triumphant vision of what it means to be an artist. The production stars Daniel Cantor (The Men), Renata Friedman (The Women) and Adam Green (Asher Lev).

My Name Is Asher Lev will feature sets by Dan Conway, costumes by Olivera Gajic, lighting by John Hoey, and sound by James Sugg. Rose Marie Packer is production stage manager.

Chaim Potok was born Herman Harold Potok on February 17, 1929. The son of Polish immigrants, he was reared in an Orthodox Jewish home in New York City, where he attended religious schools. As a young man he became drawn to Conservative Judaism. He attended Yeshiva University and graduated summa cum laude in English literature in 1950, before moving on to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he was ordained a Conservative rabbi.

Potok then taught at several Jewish colleges, including the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, before moving on to become the managing editor of Conservative Judaism in 1964. Potok spent a year in Israel completing his doctoral dissertation on philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania in 1965 and the following year became the editor of the Jewish Publication Society of America, which he remained for eight years before becoming a special-projects editor of the publication in 1974.

Potok began his career as an author and novelist in 1967 with the publication of The Chosen, the first book from a major publisher to portray Orthodox Judiasm in the United States. Two years later, he followed The Chosen with a sequel, The Promise. In 1972, Potok returned to the subject of Hasidism for a third time with his novel My Name Is Asher Lev, the sequel to which, The Gift of Asher Lev, was published 18 years later in 1990. Potok also published several major nonfiction works, including Wanderings: Chaim Potok’s History of the Jews (1978).

Aaron Posner (Playwright/Director) is a playwright, director, teacher and former artistic director whose work has been seen at major regional theatres across the country including Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, The Alliance, Arden Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Arizona Theatre Company, California Shakespeare Theatre, Folger Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, Portland Center Stage, Seattle Rep, and many more. His adaptations of Chaim Potok’s novels The Chosen and My Name Is Asher Lev have been produced at more than 50 regional theatres, as well as internationally.

FREE EVENT “Conversations with…” From Page to Stage with Aaron Posner on Friday, August 19 at 4pm.  Playwright/Director Aaron Posner will discuss how a modern classic novel such as Chaim Potok’s My Name Is Asher Lev is adapted into a dramatic form for the stage.

Posner will discuss the process beginning with the first idea through the play’s premiere on the stage. While all “Conversations with…” events are free, reservations are highly recommended. Seating is general admission.  For tickets, call the Box Office at 413-236-8888.

My Name Is Asher Lev will be presented at BSC Stage 2, 36 Linden St., Pittsfield from August 18 through September 11. Opening Night: Sunday, August 21 at 3pm.  Performance times are Tuesday through Friday at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, and Thursdays and Sundays at 3pm.  Added matinee performance Friday, September 2 at 3pm. Please note there will be no Thursday matinee on August 18. Tickets: $15-$39.  Youth 18 and under $15 all performances except Saturday evening.




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