Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department faculty member James Sherman‘s 1985 comedy/drama The God of Isaac is receiving a new production by Grippo Stage Company July 8-August 27 at the Piven Theatre in the northern Chicago suburb of Evanston. Sherman, a former Second City cast member, teaches playwriting and improvisation at the Columbia College Theatre Department. The production team for The God of Isaac includes assistant stage manager Hannah Siglin, a student in the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department’s BFA Program in Theatre Directing.
The play, a hit in its 1985 premiere at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre, is Sherman’s semi-autobiographical account of a young American Jew searching for his Jewish identity in the wake of a threatened neo-Nazi march in the Chicago suburb of Skokie in 1977. The new production is helmed by Dennis Začek, who directed the play’s world premiere at Victory Gardens, the beginning of a decades-long collaboration between Sherman and Začek.
Coincidentally, a production of Sherman’s 1991 Off-Broadway hit Beau Jest plays its final performance at Vienna’s English Theatre in Austria, continental Europe’s oldest and most distinguished English-language theatre, on July 8, the same day The God of Isaac begins performances at Piven Theatre.
The God of Isaac focuses on Isaac Adams, a second-generation American Jew, as he learns of plans for a neo-Nazi group to stage a demonstration in Skokie — a real-life 1977 event that inspired the play. Wondering what, if anything, his involvement should be, Isaac ultimately comes to terms with his heritage, his mother, and himself. The God of Isaac has enjoyed productions worldwide.
“When I opened the play in 1985, the idea of a neo-Nazi group marching in Skokie was deeply disturbing, particularly since the community was heavily populated with Holocaust survivors at the time,” comments Sherman. “I never imagined that 30 years later the questions raised in the play would suddenly feel so resonant and topical, with white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups once again making news headlines nationwide.”
Piven Theatre is located in the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes, Evanston. For tickets, call 800-838-3006 or click here.