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The Story of Esther

Victor Eydus's story posted on March 06, 2013 at 1:06 am. Victor emigrated from Leningrad, Soviet Union (USSR) to San Jose, United States in 1988

The Story of Esther is my second play and the first one written in English. I happened to be a participant of the migration of Jewish people from Russia. American public is largely unaware of these events so I set up my goal to make the story known as a musical play.


To get the full text of a play, feel free to email me at veydus@yahoo.com.


The synopsis of a play is below.


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Esya (short for Esther in Russian) Levite is a student of the University of Leningrad. A friend brings her to an underground Jewish group that studies Hebrew in preparation for emigration from Russia. While Esya is not interested in studying the language and feels quite detached from her national culture, she wants to participate in a Purimspiel, a theatrical performance based on the Book of Esther. She is given the leading role of Queen Esther. Sergey, a young computer engineer, volunteers for the role of Modecai.


 


The group wants to set forth the non-orthodox version of the Scroll of Esther, including the episodes that are typically not shown. They start with the downfall of Queen Vashti, then move on to the scene where the young maiden Esther (the same age as Esya) expresses her desire to marry the king of Persia and become a queen. She does not care much about her Jewish identity, and craves the luxurious life of the royal palace. As Esya and Sergey practice their roles, they fall in love with each other. Esya, as well as Sergey and other youth in the group, is well educated and intelligent: she speaks French, plays the piano, sings, understands higher math, etc.


 


Meanwhile the Soviet secret police learn about the preparations for the performance.  The Russian authorities see the celebration of a religious holiday as an act of civil disobedience, which is true to some extent. The captain of the local police station is given an order to halt the show at any cost. Should he succeed, he is promised a promotion, while a failure means severe punishment for him. The case becomes a matter of personal pride for the captain as well.


Another rehearsal happens the next week. Esya sings the song of Queen Esther, who has just been told about the plot of the hateful vizier Haman to destroy the entire Jewish population in the Persian Empire. Esther is safe in the citadel as nobody knows that she is Jewish. Mordecai insists she approach the king, which is against the law of the land, and petition for her people. Esther is in panic; she knows she has to come to the king uninvited. She asks her chambermaids for advice. They suggest she dress up, use the best fragrances, and this way charm the king. Yet Esther realizes that at this time of mortal danger she can rely on God only. She will fast for three days and orders fasting for all Jews in the capital too.


During the rehearsal the captain, with two policemen, shows up. Although religion is not prohibited in the USSR, and the group cannot be imprisoned for a preparation for Purim, the police search the apartment, damaging everything that they come across, harassing and eventually arresting the whole company. During the interrogation in the jail the captain does his best to intimidate the amateur actors. However, the company is determined to go on with the show. By this time Esya has accustomed herself to her role of heroine, and at this point the border between her real life and the theatre has blurred and she feels like Queen Esther, prepared to sacrifice for her people…


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