top of page


The True Story of a Little Jewish Play

Embark on a mesmerizing journey through the heart of Paula Vogel's Indecent, an award winning theatrical tour de force presented by Studio Theatre. Against a canvas of historical upheaval, Indecent unfurls the gripping narrative of Sholem Asch's audacious work, God of Vengeance, a groundbreaking Broadway sensation that sent shockwaves a century ago in 1923.

Asch's play ignited a conflagration of passion among artists and audiences, shattering societal norms and artistic confines. With eloquence, Vogel's script weaves a rich tapestry of history, embracing themes of love, tradition, censorship, religious hypocrisy, and the unwavering quest for truth. In this timeless odyssey, audiences witness the unwavering strength of the human spirit. Indecent stands as an indispensable experience that promises to uplift, challenge, and deeply resonate. Don't miss this profound exploration of art's eternal resonance, a testament to its enduring ability to stir hearts and minds alike.


by Paula Vogel

Timms Centre for the Arts

NOV 30th - DEC 9th, 2023*

Preview: November 30, 2023

Matinee: December 7, 2023

Evening performances: 7:30pm** 

Matinee performance: 12:30pm 


*(No performance on Sunday December 3)
Thursday, December 7 Evening Performance (7:30pm) will be supported with ASL interpretation.

Single Ticket Prices: 

Adult: $28 | Senior/Alumni: $24  
tudent: $14


Half Price — Preview, Monday &
Thursday Matinee Performances:

Adult: $14 | Senior/Alumni: $12 
Student: $7

This production contains strobe lights, fog, haze and mature content

Special events during the run of Indecent: 

December 1: post-show Opening Night Reception 


December 2: Moses Asch Birthday Gala featuring a post-show reception and silent auction 


December 7: Matinee performance: post-show Talkback Session with the cast & crew

NEW for 2023-2024!

2023–2024 Studio Theatre Season Membership

(replaces Season Subscriptions)


To see the 2023-2024 Studio Theatre Season
line up
, click here.



Leave a message with the Timms Centre Box Office at OR (780-492-2495)

In Person Box Office Hours:

Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am - 2pm & one hour
before performances.

See the Play

Director's Note

Entering the MFA Directing program offers a rare gift—the chance to immerse oneself in a script for months on end, delving into its depths, questioning, researching, analyzing, and preparing. The opportunity grants a unique intimacy with a piece and an artist's body of work. The decision to stage Paula Vogel’s INDECENT unfolded as a spiritual journey, driven by a compelling need to tell this story. The revelation of a direct link between the University of Alberta and Sholem Asch marked the beginning of this profound experience, which then led to connecting with the playwright Paula Vogel, Michael Asch—Sholem’s grandson and a former professor at U of A - the Sound Studies Institute, The Wirth Institute of Austrian and Central European Studies, The Department of Music, Bridge & Wolak, the Edmonton Jewish Community, Rabbah Gila Caine, and our dedicated creative team. Being part of bringing this story to Alberta has been a unique privilege. Little did I anticipate the haunting significance this play would hold in this particular moment in time. INDECENT tells the story about another play, The God of Vengeance, a 1906 Yiddish drama by Polish-Jewish writer Sholem Asch, and the troupe of artists who risked their lives to perform it. This year commemorates a century since the groundbreaking Broadway debut of The God of Vengeance in New York, 1923. It also marks a hundred years since the infamous obscenity trial that followed. The echoes of this play cast an unsettling relevance in our current reality. Yet, despite a century's divide, there is still much ground to cover in our ongoing societal struggle for equality, artistic expression, and love. INDECENT is all about making art in dangerous times. The troupe's story, set in a fragile attic, echoes the delicate nature of lives and culture. Deeply touched by Asch's story of love prevailing in a world marred by obscenities, they defiantly gather to perform it. Their journey becomes a powerful exploration of a community grappling with internal conflicts and external threats. The play celebrates the power of storytelling, representing artists who risked everything for the transformative dignity of being seen. Bearing witness to their stories becomes imperative in sustaining their vitality. By telling this story today, we preserve their memory and keep their spirits alive. I am profoundly touched by the passion and inclusivity within our artistic community, as well as the warm embrace extended by both the university campus and the broader Edmonton community—it has been truly moving. My heartfelt gratitude goes to this remarkable cast and group of musicians who, night after night, breathe life into the very essence of this story. And to you, our audience, for setting aside the time to join us in person. Thank you and enjoy the show.

Dig Deeper

"A dramaturg is a member of the artistic team of a theatre production who is a specialist in the transformation of a dramatic script into a meaningful living performance."

(5) Michael Mark Chemers, Ghost Light: An Introductory Handbook for Dramaturgy, Southern Illinois University Press, 2010.


"I think of theater as the canary you put into the coal mine. It tells us if there are poisonous gasses. And that’s what our theater does, that's what our music does, that's what our young writers do." 


— Paula Vogel, Theatre Talk, 2017.

Paula Vogel.jpeg

 Born on November 16, 1951, Paula Vogel has always been a playwright with an interest in the wide breadth of humanity. In 1992, she came to national prominence with her play The Baltimore Waltz, a satire around the prejudices of the AIDS crisis in the '80s and ‘90s.Five years later, Vogel won a Pulitzer Prize for her play How I Learned to Drive, which examined the impact of sexual abuse. She spent the bulk of her academic career at Brown University, where she oversaw the playwriting program and mentored future Pulitzer Prize winners, Lynn Nottage and Quiara Alegría Hudes. From 2008 to 2012, Vogel was the Eugene O’Neill Professor of Playwriting and the department chair at Yale School of Drama. When she was a graduate student at Cornell, her professor handed her a copy of The God of Vengeance. An out, feminist playwright with a Jewish father, the play had special meaning. Her collaborator on this piece, Rebecca Taichman, also discovered the story of The God of Vengeance when she was working on her thesis at Yale. The project took them seven years and over 41 drafts.


In 1906, in Warsaw, Poland, Sholem Asch, a 26-year-old Jewish playwright, experiences  the first reading of his inaugural play, The God of Vengeance. Amidst mixed reactions, one reader dismisses it as "garbage," and I.L. Peretz, hailed as the father of Yiddish Literature, urges Asch to "burn it." Criticisms arise, citing objections to a love scene between two women and the depiction of Jewish characters “as prostitutes and pimps”. The men in the reading, all esteemed Jewish writers, fear reinforcing negative stereotypes in a climate of rampant anti-Semitism. However, Lemml, a country tailor, finds profound meaning in the play, setting the stage for "the true story of a little Jewish play.”

As The God of Vengeance tours Europe, a dedicated troupe of actors captivates sold-out audiences. Yet, trouble emerges when it transfers to Broadway in 1923 and is translated from Yiddish to English. Obscenity laws pose a threat to the play's performances. Simultaneously, in Europe, the onset of pogroms and the Holocaust unfolds. Inspired by these real events, INDECENT charts the life of Asch’s play, illustrating the potent forces of theatre, censorship, identity, courage, and love.

Sholem Asch.jpeg

Sholem Asch, circa 1906, on a visit to London, before his work was widely translated into English.
Source:Yiddish Book Center


GOV 2.jpeg

Lead actor Rudolph Schildkraut, a renowned performer from Austria, stands fourth from the left, in the front; the producer Harry Weinberger stands second from the right; and the playwright, Sholem Asch, is at the extreme right.

Source: Yiddish book Center.

GOV 1.jpeg

Sholem Asch's Yiddish-language drama, "Der got fun nekome" (The God of Vengeance), stands as a profoundly provocative and influential work in twentieth-century Jewish theater.

The narrative centers on the pious Yekel, a brothel owner who resides with his wife, Sarah, a former member of the brothel, above the establishment. Yekel's paramount goal is to safeguard his daughter, Rifkele, from harm and shape her into a virtuous maiden suitable for marriage to a scholar. To achieve this, he undertakes the sacred and costly task of commissioning a Torah scroll, intending to hang it in his daughter's room for protection, emphasizing her purity. However, Yekel is unprepared for the love that blossoms between his daughter Rifkele and Manke, one of the prostitutes in his brothel. The play emerged as a powerful non-Aristotelian tragedy, delving into the lives of ordinary people grappling with profound moral and ethical dilemmas such as sin, guilt, remorse, and the fear of retribution.

Scene from the third act of the premiere production of God of Vengeance at the Deutsches Theatre, Berlin, 1907. (Courtesy of the Leo Baeck Institute, New York.)

Source: David Mazower.

Want to know more?

Go Deeper?

What is Antisemitism? Hatred of Jews is on the rise. Learn how to recognize and combat antisemitism.

Dig Deeper



Michael Bridge — Accordionist

Megan Holt — Ingenue

Aidan Laudersmith — Ingenue

Alexander Mahon — Middle

*Dov Mickelson — Elder

*Elena Porter — Elder

Guillaume Tardif — Violinist

Maxwell Vesely — Lemml

Jacquelin Walters — Middle

Kornel Wolak — Clarinetist


*The participation of these Artists is arranged by permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association under the provisions of the Dance•Opera•Theatre Policy (DOT).


**Ben Smith — Director

Brock Keeler — Scenic/Props/Projection Designer

Payal Jotania — Costume Designer

Guido Tondino — Lighting Designer

Victoria Zimski — Associate Lighting Designer

Yusen Wang — Design Assistant

Allison Matthews — Vocal Coach

Gerry Morita — Movement Coach

Maxwell Vesely — Music Director

Bailey Bartee — Dramaturg

Daisy Brazil — Dramaturg

Dana Tanner-Kennedy — Dramaturg

Rabbah Gila Caine — Rabbi/Jewish Cultural Support

** This production is in fulfillment of Ben Smith’s MFA in Directing.


Technical Director — Larry Clark

Assistant Technical Director — Juliana Stephens

Head of Wardrobe — Joanna Johnston

Cutter — Julie Davie

Cutter/Stitcher — Kathryn Neuman

Wardrobe Practicum — Kade Mazury

Properties Master — Jane Kline

Properties Assistants — Tiffany Martineau, Taylor Howell

Head of Carpentry — Darrell Cooksey

Head of Paint — Yusen Wang

Scenic Painters — Annika Schultz, Aryanna Slifka,
Cecil Turner- Veselka, Sunny Bossert, Emma Church,
Nirvana Atarodifard, Kennedy Burriss

Lighting Supervisor — Jeff Osterlin

Head of Lighting — Aryanna Slifka

Lighting Crew — Keith Lonsberry, Jade Foote,
Kahlan Fornara, Sam Anderson, Kaden Boutette, Ash Ilcisin

Sound Supervisor — Matthew Skopyk 

Head of Sound — Bradley Lanceleve

Sound Assistant — Ash Ilcisin


Studio Theatre Artistic Coordinator and
Drama Department Chair — April Viczko

BFA Acting Coordinator — David Ley

Directing Advisor — Kate Weiss

Stage Management Advisor — John Raymond

Design Advisor — Guido Tondino

Paint Advisor — Cindi Zuby


Stage Manager — Stuart Lindsay

ASM Props — Julian Padalec

ASM Wardrobe — Phoenix McLeod

Lighting Operator — Harjot Bassi

Sound Operator — Bradley Lanceleve

Stage Crew/Fly Operator — Juliana Stephens


Production and Operations ADM — Joshua C. McIntosh

Venue Operations Manager — Iain Graham

Patron Services Coordinator — Candice Stollery

Executive/Administrative Assistant — Helen Baggaley

Production and Operations Assistant — Emily Pole

Operations Assistant — Andraya Diogo

Fine Arts Information and Outreach Coordinator — Trish Agrell-Smith


Yiddish Title Translations by Dr. Marcus Moseley

Jane Kline for the Projection Drape

Kathryn Neuman

The Citadel Theatre

Alexander Carpenter

Christina Crowder

Courtney Arsenault

David Kennedy

Michael Frishkopf

Elizabeth Ludwig

Felice Lifshitz

Jason Hatch

Joel Magalnick

Leslie Parsad

Lisa Gutkin

Lucinda Johnston

Margaret Asch

Marilène Oliver

Michael Asch

Moishe Rosenfeld

Paula Vogel

Rychele Wright

Scott Smallwood

Stefano Muneroni

Sylwia Chrobak

The University of Alberta Department of Music

Tine Kindermann

The University of Alberta Library and Museums

The Victoria Ruétalo

Tim Klassen

Tom Hunter

Victoria Ruétalo

Wirth Institute of Austrian and Central European Studies

Sound Studies Institute

Temple Beth Ora

Rabbi Gila Caine

Alvin Finkel



Megan Holt

Cast, Ingenue, Chana, Riffkele, Madje, Elsa, Reina, Virgina

Juliana Stephens

Crew, Assistant Technical Director

Dov Mickelson

Cast, Otto/Elder

Maxwell Vesely


Payal Jotania

Creative Team, Costume designer

Alexander Mahon


Micheal Bridge


Jacquelin Walters


Alison Matthews

Creative Team, Dialect Coach

Yusen Wang

Lead Paint

Daisy Brazil

Creative Team, Production Dramaturg

Guillaume Tardif


Kornel Wolak


Elena Porter

Cast, Elder

Bailey Bartee


Aidan Laudersmith

Cast, Avram, Sholem Asch, Morris Carnovsky, Eugene O’Neill

Brock keeler

Creative Team, Set, Prop, and Projection Designer

Stuart Lindsay

Crew, Stage Manager

Benjamin W. Smith


Harjot Bassi

Crew, Lighting Operator


Content compiled by Kristen Fernandes and Payal Jotania

Glossary & Translations

Chutzpah: Boldness or audacity, often displayed in an inappropriate or brazen manner; "She had the chutzpah to ask for a raise after only working there for a week."


Dybbuk: An angry, lost spirit that takes human hosts, prominent in Jewish folklore.


Farshtinkeneh: (Yiddish - farshtinken(e)) 'Stinking'; contemptible.


Fin itzt un bay unz in shtib: Yiddish – “At home, from now on, only.”


Geht: Yiddish/German – Go.


Goyim: Plural of goy (a non-Jew).


Huppah: The canopy under which a bride and groom stand during their wedding ceremony.


Intelligentsia: (Russian) - Russian colloquialism. Refers to educated, modern society.


Ketubah: A formal marriage contract that also provides a financial clause for the wife in case of her husband’s death or a divorce.


Kvell: To express pride or joy in someone or something; "She was kvelling over her son's graduation from college."

Kvetch: To complain or grumble, often about something minor; "Those two always find something to kvetch about.”


Mame-lushn: Mother tongue.


Mensch: A person of integrity and kindness who does good deeds; "He's a real mensch for volunteering at the animal shelter every weekend."


Meshuganeh: (Or meshuggeneh) Insane or crazy; “Stop acting like a meshuganeh or you’ll embarrass us!”


Minyan: Quorum of 10 men over the age of 13 required to worship publicly in Orthodox Judaism.


Nosh: To eat small amounts of food, often as a snack; "I like to nosh on popcorn while watching movies."


Oy Vey: An exclamation of dismay or frustration; "Oy vey, I forgot my keys at home."


Potchkying: To fuss or “mess around” inefficiently and inexpertly.


Pogrom: (Russian) Noun. An organized genocide.


Seconal: Originally a short-acting barbiturate drug primarily prescribed as a sedative,

bottom of page