God of Vengeance

God of Vengeance is the first play to present a lesbian scene on the American stage and also is the first to be successfully convicted on the grounds of obscenity [in the first English language production in 1922]…. The lesbian relationship in the play, portrayed through passionate embraces and kissing, shocked, titillated, and entertained audiences, but complaints to close the play also came from prominent Jewish religious leaders who feared that the play would result in anti-Semitic attacks. – Dawn B. Sova

Asch wrote the drama Got fun nekome (God of Vengeance) in the winter of 1906 in Cologne, Germany. It is about a Jewish brothel owner who attempts to become respectable by commissioning a Torah scroll and marrying off his daughter to a yeshiva student. Set in a brothel, the play includes Jewish prostitutes and a lesbian scene. I. L. Peretz famously said of the play after reading it: “Burn it, Asch, burn it!” Instead, Asch went to Berlin to pitch it to director Max Reinhardt and actor Rudolf Schildkraut, who produced it at the Deutsches Theater.

God of Vengeance opened on March 19, 1907 and ran for six months, and soon was translated and performed in a dozen European languages. It was first brought to New York by David Kessler in 1907. The audience mostly came for Kessler, and they booed the rest of the cast. The New York production sparked a major press war between local Yiddish papers, led by the Orthodox Tageplatt and the radical Forverts. Orthodox papers referred to God of Vengeance as “filthy,” “immoral,” and “indecent,” while radical papers described it as “moral,” “artistic,” and “beautiful”. –Wikipedia

Presented as part of the 1978-79 Season

Artist Credits

Credit Artist Photo
Playwright Sholem Asch
Director Stanley Brechner

All 1978-79 Season productions: