“My Name is Asher Lev” opened this weekend at the Circle Theater in downtown Fort Worth.
The play tells the story of Asher Lev, a young Jewish painter who is torn between his piety and his passion for art. The production is based off the novel of the same name by Chaim Potok.
According to the playbill, the novel spent six months on the New York Times Best Seller List before it became popular on stage. The play won the Outer Critics Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play in 2013.
Dr. Harry Parker, TCU professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre, directed the play. According to Dr. Parker, research was a huge part of the preparation process for the Circle Theater’s production of “My Name is Asher Lev.”
In order to fully encompass the Jewish culture, Dr. Parker enlisted the help of Rabbi Sidney Zimelman. Zimelman was able to provide insight regarding customs, pronunciations and interactions between the characters.
“Rabbi Zimelman told of his years at a post-World War II Brooklyn yeshiva, and his own experiences of having to choose between pursuing his studies in Judaism, or a career as an artist,” Parker said.
Parker received additional help from playwright Aaron Posner, who adapted the novel for the stage. Posner attended rehearsal and offered tips and tricks that helped in past productions of “My Name is Asher Lev.”
“Aaron Posner revealed to us how his adaptation of Chaim Potok’s novel came about, and his experiences with what worked best for the play in previous productions,” Parker said.
Some of Parker’s students also caught the show this weekend.
“I really thought ‘My Name is Asher Lev’ was a beautiful play,” Abby Gardner, a sophomore theater major at TCU, said. “It touched on a powerful internal struggle and shed light on the beautiful culture of Hasidic Judaism.”
Previews for "My Name is Asher Lev" began Thursday. The show will run at the Circle Theater until March 7.
Starting April 30, the Circle Theater will produce “I and You”, a play by Lauren Gunderson.