Asher Lev: Praise from the press and Aaron Posner’s thoughts

Alexander Strain as Asher with Lise Bruneau as his mother

Alexander Strain as Asher with Lise Bruneau as his mother

When his stage adaptation of Chaim Potok’s novel My Name is Asher Lev opened at Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre Company in January 2009, playwright Aaron Posner wrote a short piece for the program, briefly sharing his thoughts on translating this renowned book to the stage. We wanted to share a bit of it with you.

“I started talking with Chaim Potok almost a decade ago about how his remarkable novel, My Name is Asher Lev, might work on stage. We’d just worked together on adapting his novel The Chosen, and I was excited to explore another of his master works. Like The Chosen, I find My Name is Asher Lev to be intelligent, passionate, and moving. Many think of it as his most emotionally autobiographical novel, and the fact that it is told in the first person and covers more than 20 years makes it a particular challenge for adaptation.

As a novelist, Chaim was engaged in exploring core conflicts: Conflicts within a family; within a community; and, very often, within an individual. He was deeply interested in the way human beings of passion and commitment chart their unique and difficult paths through life. And because his writings are equally rich in heart, mind, and spirit, his stories have an extraordinary power to intrigue, illuminate, and inspire. I am sorry you could not all be there for the fascinating conversations our explorations led to in rehearsals [for the original Arden production]. It has been a pleasure and an education simply to get to spend such significant time in Chaim’s unique universe.

I have also been honored to work closely with his wife, Adena Potok, on this adaptation. After Chaim’s death in 2002, Adena and I picked up the conversation Chaim and I had begun about this amazing story, and it has been wonderful to have her be an integral part of the journey of bringing this book from the page to the stage.”

Asher Lev runs at Round House Bethesda through April 11. Here are some of our rave reviews.

My Name is Asher Lev is a gem. It’s thought-provoking, humorous and deeply insightful… Director Jeremy Skidmore demonstrates his understanding of the material by presenting it as a painter might, judiciously incorporating brightness and shadow in appropriate portions” – TalkinBroadway

“Fervently captures the passion and intensity of the novel. It is a beautiful, cerebral production, at once romantic…and rigorous…Strain is an almost scarily determined in the role, seemingly capable of burning holes through the canvases with his gaze…Bruneau and Heller are masterful…[an] entrancing production.– DC Theatre Scene

“[A] well-framed tale of artistic conflict…an effective portrait…Jeremy Skidmore’s taut production features an imposing art studio set by Tony Cisek and evocative design work by Dan Covey (lights) and Matthew M. Nielson (sound)…Asher Lev [is] played with fierce inquisitiveness by Alexander Strain.” – Washington Post

“Insightful…its characters are achingly human, its conflicts urgent…impressive.” – DCist.com