Director Rebecca Taichman had been dreaming of bringing the story around Sholem Asch’s 1920s play God of Vengeance to the stage for some time—since working on the play in college—and wondered who would be the best person to write the script. “It was clear that it was a story that should be told but I did not have the capacity to tell it myself,” she says.
Taichman didn’t personally know Paula Vogel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright behind such well-known plays as How I Learned to Drive, and Desdemona, A Play About a Handkerchief, but decided to give her a call—on a wing and a prayer.
“I had the audacity, I mean it really felt like audacity, to call Paula, who seemed like the longest shot I could ever dream of,” recalls Taichman. “Within five minutes she said yes and we embarked on this extraordinary adventure together… I couldn’t believe it. Then what proceeded to happen was that she took this tiny little idea that I had and turned it into an extraordinarily epic masterpiece that I never could have dreamed of.”
The “masterpiece” is Indecent, a play with music that details the controversial reaction to Asch’s play, the love story of two women, in 1923. The show charts the history of that drama and the artists who risked their lives to perform it. Indecent is a tribute to the power of theatre, art, and love all, at once. Despite the very real struggles behind the story, the show is a celebration on the stage.
Indecent premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2015. The following year, it debuted in New York at the Vineyard Theatre, where it played an acclaimed, extended run. Next stop: Broadway’s Cort Theatre.
What Taichman didn’t know all those years ago, when Indecent was just a germ of an idea in her mind, was that Vogel—“the longest shot she could ever dream of”—was actually all too familiar with the director’s work. “She knows now—because I tell her as much as I can—that I had been tracking [Rebecca’s] work and watching her productions, and just thinking what a remarkable gift this director has,” says Vogel.
Vogel had heard that Taichman had staged the obscenity trial from Asch’s God of Vengeance as a grad student at Yale and was immediately intrigued. “That was the day I said, ‘I’ve got to know this woman.’ Fortunately for me, the phone rang and Rebecca was on the other end of the line,” she says.
Since the project’s earliest stages, Vogel and Taichman have enjoyed a fruitful collaboration, the kind most artists dream of. In the rehearsal room, they work as one.
“It’s so been so intimate, for so long now,” says the director. “I look into Paula’s eyes and I know what to do. I think a signature of our process has been to trust our instincts and we often share the exact same instincts.”
“I also feel that,” agrees Vogel. “We have two minds as well as one. We have two visions and her vision always seems to open up a new door for me.”
Indecent began previews on Broadway April 4 and will officially open April 18. Scroll through photos of Vogel, Taichman, and the cast meeting the press:
The Broadway staging is produced by Daryl Roth, Elizabeth Ireland McCann, and Cody Lassen in association with Vineyard Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, and Yale Repertory Theatre.
Tickets are also on sale by calling (212) 239-6200 or by visiting Telecharge.com.