Among my favorite childhood memories are my times spent at The Children’s Theatre with my mother. Every year she would buy season tickets that would entitle us to three plays and one puppet show. At that point in time Wichita did not boast a Civic Center so the plays were held at a local high school. East High had been built in 1923. It was a three-story, brick building designed in a Collegiate Gothic Style.Despite these discomforts I have happy memories of watching The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and various other classics. My mother fostered the love of the theatre in me at a very young age.
Interestingly, my husband also loved the theatre. Going to a play was one of our favorite dates. In our early years we always had season tickets to The Phoenix Little Theater. Some of the plays were problematic, though. One drama, whose name I do not remember, had an anti-Semitic line and I have not forgotten how uncomfortable the line made me feel. That discomfort was nothing to how we felt viewing Same Time, Next Year. The comedy made light of adultery and we knew we did not belong in the audience. We left during intermission. As we matured we began to screen our theatre choices better looking for “kosher” entertainment.
Then we moved to Israel. Our Hebrew was not on a very high level. Therefore, we kept watch on the entertainment section in The Jerusalem Post for English productions that interested us. Finally, I found one. A Shakespeare revival with a modern twist would be showing at one of the older theatres in Jerusalem. We were intrigued and lined up a babysitter. Dressed up for an evening out, we first went to a restaurant, and then, full of excitement, headed to the show.
Of course, we had made reservations. My husband approached the box office and told the ticket-seller our name. I stood at his side, eager to receive our admission and settle down in the theatre. The ticket- seller was hesitant, though. He appeared to be a few years younger than us, rather serious looking. With a beard and a black skullcap on his head, he was obviously a religious Jew. I moved a little impatiently but he moved no faster. Instead he looked to the right and then to the left. He lowered his head and looked my husband in the eye.
“My friend,” he said in Hebrew. “This play is not for you.”
At first my husband blinked, not quite sure what the man meant. Then the meaning of the man’s words penetrated. My husband smiled broadly and shook his hand. “Thank you!”
Disappointed, I had my doubts about the whole thing. Why did the man think the play was not for us? Was it off-color? Was it for Christians? Maybe the ticket-seller just wanted to sabotage the theatre. My husband had no misgivings.
“He could have lost his job by telling us not to go. Evidently, he takes the commandment not to put a stumbling block before the blind seriously. We should be very grateful to him for saving us from an unpleasant experience at ‘non-kosher’ entertainment.”
Grudgingly I had to admit my husband was right. I don’t remember if we did anything else after we left the theatre. I do know that from then on we limited our theatre-going to classic, tried and true, plays.
Nowadays, our theatre-going is spent mostly going to children’s shows with our grandchildren. Just like my mother, we are trying to foster a love for theatre in them. Living in Israel there are now, thankfully, many opportunities for kosher entertainment.