A Walk With Mr. Heifetz

 

Primary Stages

New York, NY

Jan - Mar 2018

Director: Andrew Leynse

Playwright: James Inverne

Dramaturg: Melisa Annis

Set Design: Wilson Chin

Costume Design: Jennifer Caprio

Lighting Design: John Froelich

Sound Design: M.L. Dogg

Stage Manager: Michal Mendelson

With: Yuval Boim, Mariella Haubs, Erik Lochtefeld

James Inverne heard a story one day in England. That the man who composed songs for the young kibbutzim of the nascent state of Israel, Yehuda Sharett, went for a possibly apocryphal walk with Jascha Heifetz after the classical violinist’s concert in Palestine in 1926. Apparently Sharett showed up in his kibbutz hours later in a cab (weird) and without shoes on (weirder).


James got to work on a play dramatizing whatever they possibly could have talked about — and added a second act taking place 20+ years later in which Yehuda and his older brother, Moshe, who went on to become Israel’s second prime minister, have a conversation with similar undertones as the one decades prior.


The result was A Walk with Mr. Heifetz, which we performed at the Cherry Lane Theater. It was a play about music, politics, nationalism, ego, identity, and most of all, art. What it means to be an artist. How can you be an artist if the nature of it conflicts with your ethics; and how can you be an artist after or in the face of trauma.


I think about this second part a lot. But the arts are always necessary; they are a nation’s and a people’s chronicle. They show us and future generations who we were and what we held dear.  Or, to quote Alain Locke, the Harlem Renaissance philosopher, “Literature and painting and drama were the ways a people comes to consciousness; and that consciousness, once aroused, will inevitably have political consequences.”

Art matters. For our people, for our country, for our world, for our children. It is who we are.

We were so incredibly fortunate that violinist Mariella Haubs did our show with us; playing Yehuda’s muse and creative spark, and also bringing to life the music that Yehuda heard in his head.