by Alter Kacyzne
First performed in Warsaw in 1925, Dukus is a profane retelling of the old Ger Tzedek legend, which chronicles a Catholic Duke’s conversion to Judaism and subsequent martyrdom at the stake. Kacyzne's text is savagely comic and absurdly epic, featuring man-eating bears, hunchbacked rabbi's, and an auto-circumcision. It stylistically evokes everything from Fiddler on the Roof to Ionesco to Strindberg's Dream Play, irreverently attacking both Jewish and Catholic institutions for their respective fundamentalist hypocrisies. The first production of Dukus was criticized for being too "goyish" -- I imagine because it focuses on the Catholic characters as much as it does on the Jewish ones. But in giving voice to the Christian characters, Kacyzne hilariously and viciously illustrates the anti-semitism so prevalent at the time, and since Christmas is, for me, one of our culture's most iconic representations of Christianity, that's how we've decided to depict the Duke's domain.
Dukus was presented as part of the Target Margin Yiddish Theater Lab, Beyond the Pale. The Brick Theater. 2012. Choreography by Katie Rose McLaughlin O'Neil. Set design by Patrick Rizzotti. Costume design by Kerry Gibbons. Sound design by Kate Marvin. Lighting design by Bradley King. Featuring David Fuller, Sam Trussell, Kate Weber, Joshua Isaacs, Stephanie Hsu, Brian Williams, Matthew Connolly, Megan Emery Gaffney, and Joshua William Gelb.