Walking from Rumania premiered at Theater for the New City, Crystal Field, Executive Artistic Director, New York City, March 26-April 19, 2009 with the following cast:
Miriam “Mim” Koslov…..….Sylvia Milo
Chava Koslov…………..Michelle Cohen
Frieda Malik……………….Jenny Grace
Sophie Shaffran………….Natalie Reder
Gittel Landow…….Amanda Yachechak
Luca Albescu………………..Nate Rubin
Ilie Dragomir……………David Dotterer
Niki Albescu………………..Kevin Settle
Irene Glassman………Steph Van Vlack
Rabbi Landow………..…David Dotterer
Ion Stoichkov. ……Robert Gonzales, Jr.
Drina Stoichkov. …….…Zina Anaplioti
Choreography…………..Robert Gonzales, Jr.
Music direction………………Allison Tartalia
Stage Manager…………………..Bill Bradford
Set Design………………….…Mark Marcante
Lighting Design…………………Richard Reta
Costume Design………….…Alice J. Garland
Graphic Design..Virginia Asman, illuminage
Ion. “The tale of the hedgehog and the sprite.” In ancient days, before time began, a hedgehog saw his reflection in a raindrop. Believing himself ugly, he curled into a ball and rolled into the forest. He lived there alone for many years, shunning the animals, the birds and even the insects. When he grew lonely, he leaned against a wise oak tree. The tree, as old as the beginning of the Earth, had bark so thick that the spines of the hedgehog could not pierce it. Its roots embraced the hedgehog, and it dropped enough leaves to cover him like a blanket. (to Drina) Can you dance the tree?
Drina. Of course, I can do that. Of course, I can dance the tree.
Drina improvises a brief dance, creating a tree.
Ion. One day, a water sprite emerged from the lake near where Campina is now and entered the forest. She was looking for a place to commune with her father the sun and her mother the earth. She saw the old oak tree basking in the sunshine and said to no one in particular…
Drina. “This is where I want to be.”
Drina. In her joy, she danced for her mother and father, and all the animals came to watch.
Drina continues to dance during the following.
Ion. The hedgehog peeked through the blanket of leaves at the beautiful sprite and fell in love. The sprite spread her gossamer wings, turned to the old oak tree and cried…
Drina. “Mother, embrace your daughter.”
Ion. She ran to the tree and flung her arms as far as she could reach around its trunk. The hedgehog could not contain his love. He uncurled his body and threw off his blanket of leaves. “Embrace me, too,” he pleaded. The sprite was startled and turned toward the sound of his voice. He threw himself into her arms. She screamed in pain as his spines pierced her fragile body and tore her wings.
Drina continues to dance while Ion plays his violin.
Ion. (continued) He pulled away in horror at what he had done to the one he loved so deeply, but it was too late. The sprite looked into his eyes, piercing his soul as painfully as his spines had pierced her skin. He saw himself reflected in her eyes, and his shame was too much to bear. She cried out in pain and fell to the ground, clutching her belly where one of his spines remained. The hedgehog curled up again and rolled away, never to be seen again. For many years, the hart claimed he saw the hedgehog lying dead at the bottom of the river Danube whenever he went there to drink. But none of the other animals saw him, and eventually the lonely hedgehog was forgotten by the animals in the forest.
Irene. The square was empty when I came from my house. All the Jews were still in hiding or at home behind locked doors. The goyim from Dragonesti who led the pogrom were already on their way out of town. The goyim here who did nothing to stop the pogrom were also home, pretending they are better then the Dragonesti gangsters. Then Luca Albescu came into the square. He had a large rope on his arm, and he went right to the fountain. He took a piece of chalk from his pocket and wrote in big letters on the base of the fountain, “Jew Lover.” He stood there silently. Slowly, others came into the square. The goyishe butcher came from his shop, Mrs. Nastase with all her babies clutching her apron, the boys who play skittles in the square every day, and others. They looked at Luca, and whispered and pointed at the writing on the fountain. Suddenly, Luca climbed into the fountain and onto the statue of Prince Michael. He put one end of the rope around the head of the statue and the other around his own neck. Mrs. Nastase yelled, “Get his mother.” But she was already running from her house. When Luca saw her, he climbed higher. His mother called out, with fear in her voice, “Luca, my baby, come down from there.” He responded, “Yes, Mother,” and jumped. Luca’s mother screamed as his body made a splash, sending water over everyone who was standing around the fountain. That scream will haunt my dreams for a long time.
Gittel. I don’t feel so good.
Mim. What’s wrong?
Gittel. It comes and goes. I think it’s the excitement. It upsets my stomach. Once we are on our way, I’ll be better. When we are away from Adjud.
Mim. How much does it come and go?
Gittel. I’m all right. Truly, I am.
Mim. I don’t think so.
Gittel. How would you know?
Mim. You have only older brothers, isn’t that right?
Mim. I’m old enough to remember when Chava was born. And before that.
Gittel. I don’t understand.
Mim. My mother also had an upset stomach for awhile before Chava was born. And when she hugged me, I could feel the changes in her body. I see the same changes when I look at you, Gittel.
Gittel. That couldn’t be true. It’s the excitement. I’ve never been away from home. That’s all it is.
Mim. I think it could be true. That it is true.
Mim. Don’t be afraid.
Gittel. It’s not true. (starts to cry) It’s not.
Mim. Please, don’t cry.
Gittel. I can’t go, if it’s what you said….
Mim. Of course, you can go. The upset stomach stops after awhile. You’ll see.
Gittel. What will happen after? What will I do with a….a baby?
Gittel sits in chair at other end of room and turns away. Mim goes to Gittel and kneels next to her.
Mim. Do you remember when you kissed me?
Gittel. You’re sorry now that I kissed you. I understand that you are. (looks away)
Mim. Gittel, look at me. Look at me. I loved your kiss. I love you. If you let me, the baby will be ours. We’ll raise the baby together.
Gittel. Do you mean that?
Mim. With all my heart.
Gittel. What if I can’t love it? What if it looks like Luca? What happens when it grows up and asks, “Where is my Papa?”
Mim. You’ll still love it. And so will I.
Gittel. I don’t know if I can.
She puts her hand on Gittel’s stomach and kisses her.
Mim. Today, we conceived our baby. You and I. No one else. Whoever he or she looks like, our baby was conceived today.
Gittel puts her hand over Mim’s.
Mim. (continued) If our baby is patient and waits the full time, she’ll be born in America. She will never know the hard life in Rumania.