Sholem Asch’s haunting WWI drama, “The Dead Man,” takes place in the rubble of a decimated synagogue in Poland directly after the war. The surviving Jewish community gathers together to decide how to rebuild their lives. Dealing with dislocation, madness and death, all they have left is a powerful hope for a prosperous, new future. They consider moving to Palestine or America or staying and rebuilding in Poland when a Jewish soldier returns from the front to tell his neighbors that he has found a new land where Jews won’t be persecuted, with food and jobs for everyone. They hope this dream is true.
The play had its Yiddish-language world premiere in 1922. “The Westside is aglow with the genius of Sholem Asch,” screenwriter Ben Hecht wrote.
Audiences now have the opportunity to hear this play as a radio drama in its first ever complete English translation by Caraid O’Brien.
This program was originally presented by the Yiddish Book Center as part of the Carnegie Hall Voices of Hope Festival.