Whither Thou Goest

Whither Thou Goest was commissioned by
Theater for the New City in New York City,
Crystal Field, Executive Director,
and produced there February 27 - March 16, 1997,
with the following cast:


Samantha Lasser (Simi)..............Jackie S. Freeman
Rachel...................…………..............Jolie Dechev
Charlotte Lobell..................……......Karen Klebbe
Richard Lobell.......................…….Gary Lamadore


Director: Barbara Kahn
Stage manager: Lisa Marjorie Barnes
Set design: Beverly Bronson
Light design: d.m. wood
Costume design: Andy Wallach

 

Excerpt I:
An office in the
Hannah Lavanburg Home for Immigrant Girls
New York City. 1922.

Rachel and Simi

Rachel:

I want to go with you, Simi, please. Let me go with you. whither - program.jpg (24106 bytes)

Simi:
(teasing) What happens if you go with me to Ellis Island, and it's the same runner as last year and he sees you? And he remembers you?--

    [Melodramatically, using her coat as a cape, imitating a "villain" twirling his mustache, Simi chases Rachel around the desk.]

Simi
:
"Oh, there's that little girl that got away from me. Not this time. No sirree! This time she's mine!"

Rachel:
But you be there, Simi.

Simi:
(taking off her cape and shaking it) And while I'm busy saving you again from this runner, suppose there's another runner who gets another little Rachel in his trap. That would be your fault.

Rachel:
I take care of myself, I promise. Just let me go with you.

Simi:
And what happens if there is a new immigration officer there in charge and he sees you and says, "Who made such a mistake last year and let that little Rachel get in? Fire him immediately and send her back to Lithuania."

Rachel:
I not come from Lithuania, Simi, you know that.
Simi. I know that, but if he doesn't, you'd better take a map of Lithuania with you.

    [Simi laughs at her joke and goes back to work.]

Rachel:

Ikh vil geyn mit dir...Gey nit on mir.

Simi:
In English.

Rachel:
I just want to go with you today.

Simi:
No, Rachel, not today.

Rachel:
You would let Charlotte go with you, if she wanted to.

Simi:
Maybe I would.

Rachel:
But she can't help you like I can. She can't speak Yiddish or Russian or Polish.

Simi:
Charlotte speaks French.

Rachel:
You see--she can't help you. Jews do not speak French.

Simi:
Charlotte is Jewish.

Rachel:
She does not act like a Jew should act.

Simi:
So now all Jews should act the same? Where is it written that God doesn't let Jews speak French? Tell me that. No, don't tell me. Tell the Jews who live in France.


Excerpt II:
Simi's room in a boarding house on the Lower East Side,
New York City. 1922.

Charlotte and Simi

Charlotte
:
(looking around) So this is where you live?

Simi:
Finish your thought, Charlotte. This is where you live--in this slum, this hell hole...

Charlotte:
I didn't say that, and I didn't think it either. It's clean and comfortable and private. That's what matters.

Simi:
Could you live here? In one room? Could you get up each morning and hold your bladder while you dress to go down the hall to the common toilet? I don't think so. Or maybe you could hire someone to do it for you. They say money can buy anything.

Charlotte:
You know it can't.

Simi:
That's right. You're a smart lady. Rich and smart, too. Any man would be grateful to have you.

Charlotte:
Simi, what is going on with you?

Simi:
I'm taking notice of you, making an observation. Charlotte Lobell, intelligent and fully uh...(hunting for the word)...assimilated... heiress. But with all the proper pity for the rest of us Jews who were not so fortunate to be born in America and have a wealthy father and grandfather. Why haven't you married, Miss Lobell? You're quite a catch.

Charlotte:
Why do you care?

Simi:
I don't care. You can marry a Rockefeller and count each other's money for the rest of your lives. I don't care at all.

Charlotte:
I thought we settled these differences when we first met. You know it doesn't matter to me where you live or how much money you have. It's you I care about. And I think you care about me. I feel it.

Simi:
I don't want to talk about this.

Charlotte:
I do. I'm not embarrassed to say it. I feel very close to you. Like a true friend. I need you. I want you to need me.

Simi:
You have everything you need. You don't need me, too.

Charlotte:
But I do. I think about you a lot, you know. All week, I wait for Thursday. Three more days until Thursday...two more days... tomorrow. Fridays are the worst. On Fridays, I think about a whole week of waiting for next Thursday.

Simi:
I'm not somebody you should think about all the time. So, I want you to stop. Think about someone else, if you have to. Not me.

Charlotte:
I don't want to think about anyone else. I love thinking about you. Even when you argue with me or when you give me that look... You look at me like I'm not real, not a real person, like you're deciding whether or not to make me disappear.

Simi:
I can't make anyone disappear.

Charlotte:

I didn't mean that literally...

Simi:
(doesn't know the word) What does that mean?

Charlotte:
It's the way you make me feel sometimes. Like I don't exist for you. If I went away, it would have absolutely no significance in your life. I want you to miss me.

    [Simi goes to door, opens it for Charlotte to leave.]

Simi:

So go away, and I'll miss you. Is that what you want?

 

Excerpt III: The same.

Charlotte:

Can you turn off the feelings? And why should you?

Simi:
It isn't right. Not in this world. Not before God.

Charlotte:
You believe in God?

Simi:
You don't believe?

Charlotte:
No.


Simi:

But you go to shul every Saturday with your father. You said.

Charlotte:
He insists. My great-grandfather helped establish Temple Emanu-El. My father is on the board. It doesn't matter whether I believe or not.

Simi:
I don't understand you.

Charlotte:
To tell you the truth, Simi, I don't think often enough about God to believe or not to believe. It's not important to me whether God exists or not.

Simi:
It's more important than you know, Charlotte.

Charlotte:   
Why?

Simi:
I have done things in my life... I need to believe that there is a loving forgiving God. That I can atone for my sins.

Charlotte:
God has nothing to do with forgiveness.

Simi:
Charlotte!

Charlotte:
(sitting on the bed) Tell me about your home. Your family. When you were a child.

Simi:
No. Samantha Lasser was born on Ellis Island. Cyma Lozawick died crossing the ocean.

Charlotte:
Cyma is a beautiful name. For a beautiful woman.....I used to look at all the wonderful young women in my life and watch them marry, one by one. Each time it seemed like another loss to me. I didn't want to lose myself that way. I don't want to lose you.

Simi:
I'm glad you didn't.

Charlotte:
Are you?

Simi:
(embarrassed) I said it, didn't I?


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