Sholem Asch’s Scandalous ‘God of Vengeance’ to Get Yiddish Rep Revival
On this day in 1923, the entire cast of Sholem Asch’s Yiddish play “God of Vengeance” was arrested for obscenity on the opening night of their English Broadway production, which featured Broadway’s first lesbian kiss.
Almost a hundred years later, amidst an upsurge of interest in “God of Vengeance” sparked by Paula Vogel’s new tribute to it, “Indecent,” Asch’s original Yiddish text is getting a New York revival. The news was announced on May 23rd, lending some excitement to the anniversary of the Broadway production’s single performance.
That revival comes courtesy of the New Yiddish Rep, which will present it on June 25th and 26th as part of the Jewish Play Project’s OPEN: The Festival of New Jewish Theater. The production follows close on the heels of “Indecent,” which is now scheduled to close on June 19th.
Quoted in a press release, the New Yiddish Rep’s artistic director, David Mandelbaum, offered some thoughts on the importance of re-staging “God of Vengeance,” “’Got fun nekome,’is a landmark of Jewish theatre,” he said, “and a significant moral bellwether before the Holocaust, and quite astonishingly a forerunner for sexual freedom. We think that experiencing the play in its original language and exploring its Jewish context through language as only the Yiddish theatre can, will make this production both timely and unforgettable.”
Vogel, speaking to the Forward while “Indecent” was in previews, confessed to an ulterior motive for her new play, which she co-created with director Rebecca Taichman.
“I’d like to think of ‘Indecent’ [as] product placement,” she said, referring to “God of Vengeance.” “I hope it’s done more often. I hope people read it. I think it’s an extraordinary piece.”
Luckily for audiences – at least those quick enough to get tickets to one of the New Yiddish Rep’s two performances of “God of Vengeance” – it looks like her wish is starting to come true.
Talya Zax is the Forward’s culture intern. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @TalyaZax