Jewish theater cancels play after Wiesel objects


(JTA) — Washington’s Jewish theater company has canceled its first play of the season because Elie Wiesel objected to his being a character in it.

Theater J announced that it cancelled its first play of the season, "Imagining Madoff" by Deb Margolin, in which Wiesel is a fictional character, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The play, which had been scheduled to begin at the end of August, would have been a world premiere, according to the newspaper.

"Imagining Madoff" portrays the convicted Ponzi scheme businessman sitting in his jail cell recalling a fictional, all-night discussion with Wiesel. The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity lost all of its assets, $15.2 million, invested with Madoff. Wiesel personally lost several million dollars as well.Margolin withdrew the play after receiving a letter from Wiesel in which he describing the play as "obscene" and "defamatory" and threatened to stop the production through legal means, according to the Post.

The playwright told the newspaper that she used Wiesel in the play because "his name is synonymous with decency, morality, the struggle for human dignity and kindness, and in contrast to the most notorious financial criminal in the past 200 years. That’s why he was there, and I felt I had treated his character with great respect — the respect that I genuinely have felt for him."

Theater J is an equity theater that produces five to eight shows per year, five nights a week, selling up to 30,000 tickets annually. Other upcoming plays include "New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Barcuh De Spinoza," "Something You Did," and "The Odd Couple."

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