Steppenwolf’s Art

From March ’09 Spotlight: French playwright Yasmina Reza is a child of exile. Her father is an Iranian Jew and her mother is a Hungarian Jew. Her award-winning play Art may not have any overt Jewish elements, but as I watched from my seat at Steppenwolf Theatre last month, all the dialogue resonated.

The conflict begins when “Serge” buys a painting by a prominent modern artist. His buddy “Marc” is appalled: how could Serge have spent so much for so little? Before they know it, friendly banter is spiraling out of control.

Take the painting off the stage, and you can hear echoes of other arguments: Jews perpetually choosing between the old and the new; some deciding to venture forth into the unknown while others hold fast to the familiar. For days afterwards, I found myself thinking about the play’s final moments. Does natural selection favor those Jews who can create meaning from the slightest hint of possibility?

The Steppenwolf production runs through Sunday, June 7. For tickets, call the Box Office (312) 335-1650 or visit


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