UJ Stages ‘The Quarrel’

About 10 years ago, give or take a year, I was invited to director Arthur Hiller’s home to attend a reading of a work in progress. About 80 to 100 people turned out and listened raptly as two wonderful actors, script in hand, read the work in progress. It was a play called “The Quarrel,” written by two friends, David Brandes and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and based on a short story by Yiddish writer Chaim Grade. I mean no exaggeration when I say that everyone seated in Hiller’s spacious living area knew they were listening to a play that was special.

On the one hand, it was a character sketch of two quite different Jewish men who encounter one another by accident in the middle of a city park. On another, it was a powerful drama about two Holocaust survivors who knew one another as children and who now grapple with one another over such matters as faith, disillusionment and belief or the lack thereof.

It came as little surprise to hear, several years later, that the script had become a small independent film, and that it had won 8 international awards. And it comes as no surprise again to discover that it had also been cast as a play. That play will be performed locally at the University of Judaism, Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 26-28, and on Saturday, Jan. 30.

The stage production is part of the UJ’s Dortort Writers Institute, which brings eminent novelists, poets, playwrights and screenwriters to the university. The institute is named after David Dortort, the television producer of “Bonzana” and “The High Chaparral” who will himself be honored at a pre-theater dinner on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

For tickets and information, call (310) 476-9777, ext. 201.