The Passions of Emma Goldman

emma-goldman
Emma Goldman

Written and starring Roslyn Alexander

Directed by Dennis Zacek

produced by ShPIel Performing  Identity

At Stage 773, Chicago

Tour de force performance by Roslyn Alexander makes Emma Goldman come alive

After doing exhaustive research about gilded age social activist Emma Goldman (1869-1940), Roslyn Alexander, the “Grand Dame of Chicago Theatre” returns to the stage to perform a one person show based on her study. Alexander deftly presents The Passion of Emma Goldman in a 90 minute engaging performance wherein she brings Goldman’s life to us.

Roslyn alexander

We learn about how Emma Goldman became radicalized from her roots in Tzarist Russia in the late 19th Century (born in 1869 and left for the USA in 1885). Goldman was a smart and restless child who was primed to be a questioning soul. Emma spoke five languages: Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish, German and English. Her determination led her to immigrate to America with her sister.

There she  experiences working at a garment sweetshop in New York. She quickly became radicalized by the Jewish immigrants determined to give freedom and power to the common man. Alexander effectively presents the basic passion that sparked Goldman to use her strong personality and public speaking prowess to aid the anarchist cause. We meet her lovers and soul mates who motivated her.

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I was impressed both by Roslyn Alexander’s scholarship in writing a vivid, empathetic life of an important agent of social change and her enjoyable presentation of Goldman’s story. Presenting the life of a busy historical personality, especially one with a long history, is a daunting task. But Alexander easily and effectively presents Goldman’s life with a combination of quiet dignity and a sparkle of that passion that Goldman had. Alexander swiftly moves from character to character as Goldman’s adventurous life unfolds.  The use of Goldman photos enhance the production as does samples of her vocals.

Ultimately, it is Roslyn Alexander’s terrific stage skills that makes Goldman’s story engages us and keep us going through the 90 minute one act. That is no small accomplishment! Alexander does us a service by bring the life of a controversial woman who preached freedom in all things as she often said:  “How can love exist without freedom?” Alexander also serves audiences through her skilled performance. We see how Roslyn Alexander’s passion becomes Emma Goldman’s passion proving that passion is one of the key ingredients of effective people.

The Passion of Emma Goldman is a wonderful 90 minute theatrical experience. This show will run at Stage 773 through June 1 and at the Skokie Theatre from June 4 -22.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL, call773-969-6860, tickets $28, Thursdays & Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, and at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 N. Lincoln, Skokie, IL, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through June 22, 2014