Raising two now grown daughters has given George Guidall quite a bit of personal experience to mine for his role as Reb Saunders in Long Wharf Theatre’s production of The Chosen
“Watching their process of growing up and becoming more independent and realizing that what you say might not always be right for them,” he said. “It’s similar to this play.”
Guidall plays the leader of the local Hasidic and a man of considerable importance in his community. “He expects that his son will take over for him when he dies. That implies a lot of responsibilities, holiness in life, religiosity, and certain firm boundaries,” Guidall said.
Without giving away too much of the story, Guidall’s character’s wish doesn’t necessarily come true. “The process I can easily identify with is seeing my son break away from me,” Guidall said. “Little by little I began to realize that he’s a man and he makes his own decisions and I can’t control it. I tried.”
Over the course of the play, Saunders and his son Danny try to reconcile their rapidly diverging beliefs. The fact they – and the other characters in the play - even attempt to do so has become a major focal point of the work in rehearsal. “The play deals with the idea that two opposing beliefs can exist at the same time,” Guidall said. “That’s an important point in today’s world especially. Democrats and Republicans. Israelis and Arabs. Nationalists and pan-globalists. All kinds of things that seem to be totally unable to live under a compromise. The idea that there is some kind of middle ground so that both can exist at the same time is what this play is about,” he said.
Above: George Guidall, Ben Edelman, and Max Wolkowitz in THE CHOSEN. Photo: T. Charles Erickson