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May 02, 2003 - Image 70

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-02

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II Bast
Jewish News



JET presents a theater adaptation of Chaim Potok's
acclaimed novel The Chosen."


Special to the Jewish News



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Rochkind of West Bloomfield as Reuven
Maker as a youth, Andrew Parker of
Ferndale as Danny Saunders and Sam
Pollak of Oak Park as David Maker.
Grossman, as the Chasidic rabbi,
gained experience with the play in a
recent performance for the Arizona
Jewish Theatre. Nahan and Rochkind
believe they gained extra' understanding
by taking on the same character, albeit
at different times in the character's life.
"Sharing a character with another actor
creates an opportunity for talk about dif-
ferent perceptions," says Nahan, the
Actors' Alliance Theatre Co. founder
who has directed readings of new plays

aron Posner rewrites novels
as plays and found an
appropriate subject at a
time he was examining his
personal religious practices.
Posner, also a director and teacher
based in Philadelphia, was about to
ask another Philadelphia writer,
Chaim Potok, for adaptation sugges-
tions when he reread Potok's The
Chosen and decided that was the book
he wanted to restructure for the stage.
"Chaim was open to the idea, and I
worked out how I wanted to do it,"
Posner, 39, recalls about his experi-
ences with the novelist and rabbi
who died last year. "He thought it
was a great plan, and that turned
into a delightful collaboration."
Just as the book, the play exam-
ines the relationship between two
New York City boys and their
fathers in the 1940s, when there
are conflicts between values of reli-
gion and assimilation. Unlike the
book, the play gives more empha-
sis to the acceptance of diversity.
The Potok-Posner drama, which
premiered in 1999, will be pre-
sented May 7-June 8 by the Jewish
Ensemble Theatre. To celebrate
Mother's Day on Sunday, May 11,
any mom attending with a son or
daughter will be admitted free.
Robert Grossman, left, as Reb Saunders in a
"The core story of coming of age
recent performance of "The Chosen" for the
and making choices for oneself
Arizona Jewish Theatre.
endures in the play, but what makes
the play a little different from the
book is the strong message of the need for for JET "I'm glad to be involved with a
understanding and reconciliation between story that has moved so many people,
and I'm glad to be part of an adaptation
different viewpoints," Posner says.
because that's always an exciting way to
"When he wrote the book in the
bring a story to an audience."
1960s, Chaim told me, he had been
In this production, Nahan also gets
more optimistic about the future abili-
to portray other characters, people
ty of Jews of different creeds to come
Reuven Malter is remembering.
together but later saw that was not
"We explore the text together and
happening. If we're not able to
find new meanings," says Rochkind, a
embrace differences and allow more
University of Michigan student who
than one truth at any time, Chaim
has been in a number of JET produc-
thought, then there is not a lot of
tions, including Neil Simon's Lost in
hope in this complicated world."
Yonkers. "That makes the rehearsal
Directed by Pat Ansuini of Royal
process more meaningful."
Oak, the JET cast includes Robert
Posner, founder of the Arden
Grossman of Plymouth as Reb
Theatre Company of Philadelphia,
Saunders, Jeff Nahan of Pleasant Ridge
PAGE To STAGE on page 75
as Reuven Maker as an adult, Adam

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