Menu

Close

Shlemiel2_wide.jpg
Shlemiel2_wide.jpg

Shlemiel the First (1994)

Learn more:

This event has passed

Shlemiel, a sexton of the local synagogue, lives with his wife and children in Chelm, an imaginary village in Poland.  The village elders encourage him to travel outside the village to spread the dubious wisdom of their leader, Gronam Ox.  After stealing his food, Chaim Rascal tricks Shlemiel into journeying back to the city he just left.  Shlemiel is so foolish that he thinks he has discovered Chelm 2.  Moreover, he thinks that the people are curious look-alikes.  Sweetly deluded, Shlemiel falls in love again with his knowing and grateful wife.

Credits

Creative team

Music composed, adapted, and orchestrated by

Hankus Netsky

Musical arrangements, addtional music, and music directed by

Zamlmen Mlotek

Lyrics by

Arnold Weinstein

Lyrics by

Arnold Weinstein

Arnold Weinstein (co-lyricist of Punch and Judy Get Divorced) was lyricist of the American Repertory Theater's world premiere production of Shlemiel the First. His current projects include an adaptation of A View from the Bridge with Arthur Miller and William Bolcom for Lyric Opera of Chicago and the preparation of a Story Theater version of Wind in the Willows for the Mark Taper Forum. His recent projects include Cabaret Songs, published by E. B. Marks, and a collaboration with Robert Altman on the libretto for William Bolcom's opera McTeague for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. With Mr. Bolcom he also collaborated on Dynamite Tonight! and Casino Paradise. Mr. Weinstein has collaborated with artists Larry Rivers, Andy Warhol, Howard Kanovitz, and Marisol, and his plays include the award-winning Red Eye of Love and Ovid's Metamorphoses, which had its premiere at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1969 and was subsequently presented on Broadway. Mr. Weinstein also wrote the Story Theater series for television. What Did I Do? The Unauthorized Autobiography, his collaboration with Larry Rivers, has just been published by Harper Collins.

View full biography

Directed, choreographed, and supervised by

David Gordon

Directed, choreographed, and supervised by

David Gordon

David Gordon (director, choreographer, and co-writer of Punch and Judy Get Divorced) performed in the companies of James Waring and Yvonne Rainer in the 1960s, and in the 1970s he was a founding member of the improvisational group the Grand Union. In 1971 he formed the Pick Up Performance Company (incorporated in 1978 as a non-profit organization), which helps to support and administer his work in live performance and media. He is a Guggenheim Fellow (1981 and 1987) and has been a panelist and chairman of the dance program panel of the NEA. His video work has appeared on Great Performances, Alive TV, the BBC, and Channel 4/Great Britain. The Mysteries and What's So Funny?, written and directed by Gordon with music by Philip Glass and visual design by Red Grooms, was awarded a Bessie Award and an Obie Award. The script was published in Grove New American Theater. Recently Gordon collaborated with Ain Gordon on The Family Business, which premiered at Dance Theater Workshop in New York City in February 1994, received an Obie Award, and was presented at New York Theatre Workshop and at the Mark Taper Forum in 1995. They collaborated again on the text for Punch and Judy Get Divorced, which premiered at the American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia in May. He directed and choreographed the original production of Shlemiel the First for the American Repertory Theater and the American Music Theater Festival, as well as the national tours of the show. He received a National Theatre Artist Residency Grant (funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by TCG) to work with the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and he directed and choreographed The Firebugs by Max Frisch for their mainstage in 1995. He is currently working with Ain Gordon on a commission from the Mark Taper Forum.

View full biography

Set design by

Robert Israel

Set design by

Robert Israel

Robert Israel's work at the American Repertory Theater has included designs for Tartuffe, Shlemiel the First, and Orphée. He has designed sets and costumes for over sixty productions in opera houses worldwide, and has collaborated with Philip Glass on The Voyage, Satyagraha, and Akhnaten. Recent projects include The Fiery Angel for Opera de Paris (Bastille) and the Netherlands Opera, Die Zauberflöte for Glimmerglass Festival and the National Opera of Canada, Don Giovanni for Los Angeles Opera, Katja Kabanova for the Metropolitan Opera, Don Giovanni for Florence Opera, Aida and the Ring cycle for Seattle Opera, Parsifal for Deutsche Opera, Berlin, and Alice in Wonderland for the National Theatre, London. Mr. Israel's work has been exhibited at numerous museums and galleries, including the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Milwaukee Art Center, and Foundation Maeght in St. Paul de Vence, France.

View full biography

Costume design by

Catherine Zuber

Costume design by

Catherine Zuber

Catherine Zuber has created the costumes for Richard II, The Doctor's Dilemma, and over forty other A.R.T. productions including Three Farces and a Funeral, Antigone, Loot, The Idiots Karamazov, Ivanov, Phaedra, The Merchant of Venice, Valparaiso, The Imaginary Invalid, The Taming of the Shrew, Peter Pan and Wendy, The Bacchae, Man and Superman, The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, Woyzeck, The Wild Duck, The Naked Eye, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Tartuffe, Ubu Rock, Waiting for Godot, The Oresteia, Shlemiel the First, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, A Touch of the Poet, What the Butler Saw, The Cherry Orchard, and Orphée. Ms. Zuber's credits include work at Lincoln Center, The Joseph Papp Public Theater, Goodman Theatre, The Guthrie Theater, Mark Taper Forum, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Houston Grand Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera, among others. Her Broadway credits include The Triumph of Love (Connecticut Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk nomination), Ivanov (Drama Desk nomination), The Sound of Music, Twelfth Night, The Red Shoes, London Assurance, The Rose Tattoo, and Philadelphia Here I Come. Ms. Zuber was the recipient of the 1997 Obie Award for sustained achievement in design. She is the costume designer for La Fête des Vignerons de 1999, the massive Festival of the Winegrowers in Vevey, Switzerland.

View full biography

Lighting design by

Peter Kaczorowski

Sound Design

Christopher Walker

Sound Design

Christopher Walker

Christopher Walker has composed music and designed sound for We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!, Phaedra, Beckett Trio: Eh Joe, Ghost Trio, and Nacht und Traüme, and An Evening of Beckett, and designed sound for The King Stag, Loot, The Idiots Karamazov, Ivanov, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Charlie in the House of Rue, The Merchant of Venice, Valparaiso, The Taming of the Shrew, The Bacchae, The Wild Duck, Woyzeck, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Wild Duck, Alice in Bed, Slaughter City, Buried Child, Ubu Rock, The Threepenny Opera, The Accident, Demons, Waiting for Godot, The Oresteia, Hot 'n' Throbbing, The America Play, A Touch of the Poet, The Cherry Orchard, What the Butler Saw, and Those the River Keeps at the A.R.T. Previously he composed music and designed sound for productions at the Intiman Theatre, the Bathhouse Theatre, and the Alice B. Theatre. He also scores for dance and has composed for the Allegro Dance Festival, the Bumbershoot Festival, and On The Boards.

View full biography

Cast

Mrs. Shlemiel

Rosalie Gerut

Mrs. Shlemiel

Rosalie Gerut

Shlemiel

Larry Block

Shlemiel

Larry Block

Gittel/Sender Shlamazel/Yenta Pesha

Marilyn Sokol

Gittel/Sender Shlamazel/Yenta Pesha

Marilyn Sokol

Marilyn Sokol, who plays Yenta Pesha, Gittel, and Sender Shlamazel in Shlemiel the First, originated these roles at the A.R.T. in 1993 and performed them on tour throughout the U.S. She was last seen on Broadway in Conversations With My Father; and at the St. Louis MUNY as Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. Her other theatre credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor at both the New York Shakespeare Festival and the Folger Shakespeare Theatre, Candide at the The Goodman Theatre, and Genet's The Screens at the Chelsea Theatre, where she won an Obie Award for her portrayal of Lady Lockit in The Beggars Opera. She has worked with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, The Open Theatre, and the Circle Repertory Theatre (as Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus). Her films include Family Business, Foul Play, The Goodbye Girl, and The Front, and she has appeared in a variety of TV programs including Law and Order, Barney Miller, All That Glitters, and Sesame Street.

View full biography

Remo Airaldi

Mottel/Moshe Pippik/Chaim Rascal

Remo Airaldi

Remo Airaldi

Mottel/Moshe Pippik/Chaim Rascal

Remo Airaldi

A.R.T.: The Lily’s Revenge, Cabaret, Paradise Lost, Endgame, The Seagull, Oliver Twist, Island of Slaves, The Onion Cellar, The Communist Dracula Pageant, Cardenio, Julius Caesar, Amerika, The Miser, Henry IV and V, The Birthday Party, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, La Dispute, Uncle Vanya, Enrico IV, The Winter’s Tale, The Wild Duck, Buried Child, Tartuffe, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Waiting for Godot. Regional: Twelfth Night, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company; Sweeney Todd, My Fair Lady, Lyric Stage Company; Boston Playwrights’ Theatre; The Poets’ Theater; Israeli Stage; Central Square Theater; New Repertory Theater; Hartford Stage.

View full biography

Zeinvel Shmeckel

Vontress Mitchell

Zeinvel Shmeckel

Vontress Mitchell

Vontress Mitchell appeared as Zeinvel Shmeckel in the American Repertory Theater's world premiere of Shlemiel the First and as the Man in the A.R.T. New Stages production of The America Play. He has recently appeared as Rodrigo in Othello with the Juggernaut Theatre in New York, which will be performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company in spring 1997. Other A.R.T. credits include Henry IV, Black Snow, and The Threepenny Opera. He is also a 1995 graduate of the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University.

View full biography

Mendel Shmendrick/Man in House

Scott Cunningham

Mendel Shmendrick/Man in House

Scott Cunningham

Scott Cunningham grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. He originated the roles of Mendel Schmendrick and Man in House in Shlemiel the First and was also seen in Punch and Judy Get Divorced and The Mysteries and What's So Funny? at the American Repertory Theater. He has been a member of David Gordon's Pick Up Company since 1986 and has worked with him in dance, theater, and television. He has also danced with Elisa Monte and the Mark Morris Group and has recently appeared in The Firebugs at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. His choreography has been shown in New York City, Madison, and Milwaukee.

View full biography

Gronam Ox

Charles Levin

Gronam Ox

Charles Levin

Ensemble

Bret Bailey, Ricardo Engerman, Anne Gardiner, Wendell Goodrum, Nicholas F Leary

Ensemble

Bret Bailey, Ricardo Engerman, Anne Gardiner, Wendell Goodrum, Nicholas F Leary