* World Premiere

A Normal Life (1990)
This funny and heartfelt saga of a Jewish family in New York during the 1950s is drawn from the short stories of Delmore Schwartz, whose intensely autobiographical writings captured immigrant Jewish families at odds with their Depression-stymied children trying to fit into the ‘new world’.

Brilliantly combining unrelated incidents and characters from three of Schwaitz’s short stories with events and characters of his own imagining, Brogger has created an original and contemporary work infused with Schwa1tz’s spirit. Schwartz coined the phrase ‘the world is a wedding’, and A Normal Life is about the marriages — both literal and figurative — that we make throughout our lives. Rebecca Hart, a ‘spinster’ dress designer, believes she can change her life by getting married, but is unprepared for the effect her decision will have on those around her. Both the living and the dead will have opinions about this marriage.

Ruth Hart, the proud matriarch who holds her family together, enlists the help of Jacob Baumann, a family friend and life insurance salesman, to find potential husbands. Initially, Rebecca resists the idea of an arranged marriage, but will consider wedding a chosen suitor for what she thinks are purely pragmatic reasons; all she wants is a normal life. Marriage, however, may change her own life in ways she doesn’t suspect. Rebecca’s brother and sister, Seymour and Sarah, are also trying to change their lives but — in marked contrast to their more practical sister — their desire is fraught with false hopes and expectations. Seymour is an itinerant young man, constantly gambling away the family savings and dreaming of the big payday that will make the family rich. Sarah is also clinging to a dream of riches: she believes her dead husband has left her a millionaire. Sarah temporarily moves back home with her intelligent and highly sensitive young son, Jasper, but her stay may be more permanent than she thinks. While the characters struggle to deal with changes in their lives, young Jasper views them with wide-eyed wonder. Suddenly aware the he is connected to a larger family — and 5 larger world — he will be deeply affected by the actions of those around him as he grows up. As the wedding approaches and the Hart’s prepare to add a new member to the family, Brogger weaves a rich tapestry where memories of the past and dreams of the future merge to reveal who we are, who we were and what we might become.
About the Play
Written By: Erik Brogger
Delmore Schwartz - original stories
About the Production
World Premiere
Run Dates: 7/12/1990 - 8/5/1990
Program: Program (.pdf)
Venue: Queen Anne
Directed By: Mary B. Robinson
Cast: Laurence Ballard - James Mannheim
Ivar Brogger - William Schorr
Mark Chamberlin - Lenny Hart
Jane Fleiss - Thelma Poole
Jonathan Hochberg - Jasper Merwin
Jane Hoffman - Ruth Hart
Randy Hoffmeyer - Seymour Hart
Will McGarrahan - Michael Merwin; Older Jasper
Jeanne Paulsen - Rebecca Hart
Peter Silbert - Jacob Baumann
Cheri Sorenson - Sarah Hart Merwin
Behind the Scenes: Steven E. Alter - Dramaturg
Julie Blumberg - Assistant Director
Kent Dorsey - Lighting Designer; Set Designer
Steven M. Klein - Sound Designer
Mimi Maxmen - Costume Designer
Phil Schermer - Producing Director
Jeff Steitzer - Artistic Director
Joan Toggenburger - Stage Manager
Susan Trapnell Moritz - Managing Director