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                                                  YIDDISH THEATRE 101 > THE YIDDISH PLAYS > THE PLAY IN HISTORY  >  DAY AND NIGHT

DAY AND NIGHT1, Sholom Ansky

(Yiddish: Tog un nakht)

Here is the cast from the Unser Theatre production of Ansky's "Day and Night," when it opened at the Yiddish Art Theatre in New York City, on December 9, 1924:

Avigdor (Victor) Pecker, Jacob Bleifer, Jacob Bergreen, Wolf Ayzenberg, Joseph Greenberg, I. Lowstein, Isaac Rotblum, Miriam Elias, Esther Mendel, Chaim Schneyer, Asher Polonovsky and Goldie Russler.

So, here is the synopsis of Ansky's "Day and Night." The name of the actor or actress who portrayed a particular role is indicated in parentheses:


ACT 1:

The Rabbi (Chaim Schneyer) has done nothing to stop the children's epidemic raging in the town. In answer to Mendel (Jacob Bergreen), the matchbroker's queries, Hananiah (Avigdor Pecker) describes the Rabbi as a silent recluse, different from his father who died a martyr's death in a massacre. The beadle (Wolf Ayzenberg) comes to fetch the Rabbi to a wedding ceremony to be held in the cemetery as a means of checking the plague. Hananiah replies that the Rabbi will not come. A stranger (Joseph Greenberg) enters, contrary to Hananiah's orders, to implore the Rabbi's aid for his sick child. He is allowed to touch the Rabbi's door and mutely commune with him. The wedding party arrives from the cemetery, Hananiah goes into the Rabbi's room, but immediately returns, telling the party to proceed with the ceremonial dance. After the dance the party leaves.

Deborah (Miriam Elias), the Rabbi's old mother, comes in and promises to consult her son about the match for Miriam (Esther Mandel). Hananiah and the others leave. Miriam, her grandchild, enters, terror-stricken at the plague. When told of the proposed match, she protests wildly and runs off. Rabbi Don, attracted by sounds of Miriam's weeping, enters. Deborah tells of Miriam's refusal and begs him to stay with her. She is kept alive by his prayers, but would rather die. He suspects a secret and demands to know it. She denies any secret and leaves, frightened by his angry face. Miriam enters. In the ensuing conversation they reveal a subconscious love and suppressed desire for each other.

Hananiah brings the news that the Prince of Darkness with his suite celebrates nightly orgies in the ruins of an old mill and is surely the cause of the plague. The Rabbi bids him go there that night to see for himself.

ACT 2:

The ruins of the old mill--Devils tell of their achievements and are sure that Satan will be pleased. He enters and asks for reports. One reports of the carnage he has staged among animals. Another of the fear and hatred he has spread among men. Only the third messenger, sent to vanquish the Rabbi, is missing. Satan (Sidney Stavrov) and Lilith (Lisa Varon) grow impatient. Finally he appears, victorious in having stirred the blood of a Cossack in the Rabbi, aroused his sinful desire for his niece. The orgy starts, Rabbi Don appears and joins in it. Miriam follows. He embraces her. A cock crows; all disappear.

ACT 3:

 Hananiah tells the Rabbi his experience. The Rabbi is shocked at his own part in the orgy. He calls Miriam and asks her about her dreams. She does not remember, but thinks she saw him. the Rabbi s sure that Hananiah has sold himself to the Devil. Deborah, entering upon this conversation, collapses. She becomes delirious and discloses the secret of her life. In the massacre in which her husband was murdered, she was raped, and the Rabbi is the son of the Cossack. This revelation kills the Rabbi.




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