JTS and Riverside Church Cohost Portrayal of Historic Friendship

Bridging religions, generations, and races, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel developed a deep friendship in the five years before Dr. King was assassinated. 

On Thursday, January 21, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., Dr. King and Heschel’s influential association will be portrayed in a performance of A Radical Friendship, authored by Jane Marla Robbins, at the Riverside Theater, 91 Claremont Ave. between West 120th and 122nd Streets, Manhattan. It is cohosted by The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), where Rabbi Heschel was a professor of Jewish ethics and mysticism for nearly three decades, and is sponsored by the JTS Arts Advisory Board. In this two-character play, Ed Asner reads the part of Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Albert Jones the part of Dr. King. Austin Pendleton directs. All tickets will be sold through the Riverside Theater box office; seating is limited.

“Abraham Joshua Heschel’s influence resounds today, within and well beyond The Jewish Theological Seminary,” said JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen. “We are proud and humbled to have this opportunity to share with a New York City theater audience, through the vehicle of Jane Marla Robbins’s depiction, the light of Rabbi Heschel’s and Martin Luther King’s mutual wisdom and the example of their courage.”

“While history often remembers individuals and their solitary acts, woven into every speech, every courageous moment, are threads of relationship,” says Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, senior minister of The Riverside Church. “Today, as we face our own challenges for justice and peace, and as fears about our differences threaten to destroy us, the bond between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel shows what can be achieved in pursuit of the common good if we would only have the courage to be in relationship with one another.”

Jane Marla Robbins is an Obie-nominated playwright; a television, film, and stage actor; an acting coach; and a published poet. Of JTS cohosting this staged reading, she says, “It’s thrilling! Heschel taught at JTS for so long and gave it so much: he was brilliant, funny, a fierce fighter for righteousness. And his work for civil rights was huge—he was all in, risking his life all the time for what he believed.”

Ed Asner is a television, film, stage, and voice actor, and a former president of the Screen Actors Guild. He played a curmudgeonly journalist on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and grappled with the morality of slavery as captain of a slave ship in the ABC miniseries Roots. In addition to receiving seven Emmys and five Golden Globes, Asner is widely active in supporting human rights, environmental preservation, and political freedom, and is a frequent speaker on labor issues.

Albert Jones is a stage, film, and television actor whose Broadway credits include an appearance in Henry IV (LCT), and whose film and television credits include Salt, Cadillac Records, American Gangster, The Bourne Ultimatum, the upcoming Quarry and Criminal Justice; The Affair, House of Cards, Elementary, The Following, and Golden Boy, among others. Jones received his MFA from the American Conservatory Theater.

Austin Pendleton is a film, television, and stage actor; playwright; and theater director. Lauded for his role as Motel in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, he has won Drama Desk and Obie Awards for performance and a Tony Award nomination for directing Elizabeth Taylor and Maureen Stapleton in Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes. He teaches directing at The New School.

To purchase tickets, visit the Riverside Theatre box office (91 Claremont Ave., between West 120th and 122nd Streets), visit www.riversideboxoffice.org, or call (212) 870-6784.Tickets are $18 for students and seniors and $36 for regular admission. Patron tickets are $180. Patrons will be listed in the program and are invited to a private dessert reception, sponsored in part by the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue of The Jewish Theological Seminary. During the week of this performance, the Box Office will be open Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. On the evening of the show, the Box Office will extend its hours until the end of the performance to accommodate late patrons.