In June 2019, the ARTS at Marks Garage and the Open Home Performance Network presented the Hawaiʻi state premiere of Indecent, the acclaimed 2017 Tony nominee for Best Play.
Written by Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel and directed by Lurana Donnels O’Malley, Indecent tells the true story of the play which featured the first same-sex kiss on Broadway in 1923, leading to the arrest of its entire Yiddish theatre troupe for obscenity.
Indecent, a play with music and dance, centers on the story of Jewish writer Sholem Asch, his controversial play The God of Vengeance, and the many actors and theatremakers who were a part of the play’s history.
Indecent transports audiences across decades of time, through many locations and dozens of characters, weaving a story that is not only about Asch and his play, but one that is also about Jewish history, about culture and survival, and about censorship and oppression from both within and without a community. Director O’Malley believes Oʻahu audiences will find many connections with this new work.
“Local audiences should recognize a lot in the story of this Yiddish theatre troupe: the connection of language to culture, the need for freedom in artistic expression, the battle for representation and against stereotypes,” states O'Malley.
Indecent features a multicultural and multi-generational cast of 7 in multiple roles, and 2 onstage musicians.
“This is your chance to catch the Hawaiʻi state premiere of one of Paula Vogel’s greatest plays, with an impressive group of local performers, in an intimate setting,” says O'Malley. She also emphasizes that this play is “about today,” noting the timeliness of the issues and questions it raises.
In a political climate when censorship and free speech, when antisemitism, intolerance, and bigotry against LGBTQ+ and immigrants are deeply relevant issues, O’Malley hopes the play, in bringing to light some of the darker moments of world and U.S. history, will serve to remind audiences that “this is a time when we need tolerance and we need to nourish our arts.”
Photo by Judy Nguyen