My Name is Asher Lev


Barrington Stage Company

Pittsfield, MA

Aug - Sept 2011

Director: Aaron Posner

Playwright: Aaron Posner, Chaim Potok

Set Design: Daniel Conway

Costume Design: Olivera Gajic

Lighting Design: John Hoey

Sound Design: James Sugg

Stage Manager: Rose Marie Packer

With: Daniel Cantor, Renata Friedman


This was a play that struck a deep chord with so many of the audience members who came to see the entirely sold-out run in the Berkshires. Often it was hard for me to leave the theater, because many - generally, older - people wanted to talk about the play and the book and the characters, because of the connection they felt to the tale.

A young Hasidic boy discovers early on that he has a gift for drawing, a hobby that’s considered ‘narishkeit,’ foolishness, by his ultra-Orthodox community.

And yet he cannot stop drawing; what flows through him is not blasphemy, it’s not traitorous to his people, but rather the best way he can express truth. His passion for it rivals his father’s passion for traveling and spreading the word of the Ribbono Shel Olam (master of the universe).

What of course happens is the ultimate rupture between the young man, Asher Lev, and his Hasidic world.

Potok’s novel - and Posner’s adaptation - is Lev’s stirring defense of what he’s done and how his entire life led to the point of drawing his mother, his father, and himself in two paintings titled “Brooklyn Crucifixion I” and “Brooklyn Crucifixion II,” his resulting excommunication, and his dealing with the consequences.

photos by Stephen Sorokoff

Fun facts!

Potok himself was a bit of an artist, and some years after he published My Name is Asher Lev, painted his version of a Brooklyn Crucifixion.

While clearly a

crucifixion, the

piece is very, as

Potok himself would

say in his book,

“Picassoid,” and a

bit too cubist for

my own thoughts of

what the painting looked like.

After all, it had to be realistic enough that his parents and community immediately recognized the Lev family depicted therein.