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Study Guide




yracuse Stage is committed to providing students with rich theatre experiences that explore and examine what it is to be human. Research shows that children who participate in or are exposed to the arts show higher academic achievement, stronger self-esteem, and improved ability to plan and work toward a future goal. Many students in our community have their first taste of live theatre through Syracuse Stage’s outreach programs. Last season more than 30,000 students from across New York State attended or participated in the Bank of America Children’s Tour, Backstory performances, artsEmerging, the Young Playwrights Festival, and our Student Matinee Program. We gratefully acknowledge the corporations and foundations who support our commitment to in-depth arts education for our community.

Children’s Tour Naming Sponsor


John Ben Snow Foundation, Inc. Student Matinees

Young Playwrights Festival, Children’s Tour, & Student Matinees supported by

General Educational Outreach supported by

Lori Pasqualino as “Annabel” in the 2010 Bank of America Children’s Tour: Annabel Drudge... and the Second Day of School. Photo by Michael Davis

Writing and Content Collection by Len Fonte Layout & Design by Michelle Scully

Timothy Bond

Producing Artistic Director Syracuse Stage and SU Drama

820 E Genesee Street Syracuse, NY 13210



Director of Educational Outreach

4. Production Information

Lauren Unbekant (315) 443-1150

5. Introduction

Manager of Educational Outreach

Michelle Scully (315) 442-7755

Group Sales & Student Matinees

12. Context & Connections

Tracey White (315) 443-9844

13. In the Classroom

Box Office

(315) 443-3275

15. Syracuse Stage Season Info

6. Teaching Theatre 8. Letter from the Education Director 9. About the Play

14. Sources and Resources

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH AT SYRACUSE STAGE The Bank of America CHILDREN’S TOUR brings high-energy, interactive, and culturally diverse performances to elementary school audiences. The BACKSTORY Program brings history to life as professional actors portray historical figures in classrooms and other venues. ArtsEMERGING takes students on an in-depth exploration of one mainstage season production using a multi-cultural, multi-arts lens. The YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL challenges students to submit original ten-minute plays for a chance to see their work performed at Syracuse Stage.



Book and Lyrics by Tony Kushner Music by Jeanine Tesori

DIRECTED BY Marcela Lorca

February 1 - 26, 2012 An eight-year-old boy named Noah Gellman struggles with the loss of his mother and the arrival of a new stepmother. One constant in his life is a set of small daily rituals he shares with Caroline, the family’s AfricanAmerican maid. The year is 1963—civil rights and Kennedy—and in the Gellman household in Lake Charles, Louisiana, change is coming for everyone, in big ways and small. Two powerhouses of the American theatre, playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and composer Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie and Shrek: The Musical), join forces on a musical of startling creativity and refreshing originality (don’t be surprised when the washing machine starts to sing). Acclaimed on Broadway and winner of London’s prestigious Olivier Award for Best New Musical, with a score ranging from blues to gospel to traditional Jewish melodies, Caroline, or Change proves playwright Kushner’s point that “music is a blessing that enters the soul through the ear.”


“Theatre brings life to life.” Zelda Fichandler






Founding Artistic Director Arena Stage, Washington DC


elcome! As you take your students on the exciting journey into the world of live theatre we hope that you’ll take a moment to help prepare them to make the most of their experience. Unlike movies or television, live theatre offers the thrill of unpredictablilty. With the actors present on stage, the audience response becomes an integral part of the performance and the overall experience: the more involved and attentive the audience, the better the show. Please remind your students that they play an important part in the success of the performance!

A few reminders... BE PROMPT

Give your students plenty of time to arrive, find their seats, and get situated. Have them visit the restrooms before the show begins!




Please remind your students that their behaviors and responses affect the quality of the performance and the enjoyment of the production for the entire audience. Live theatre means the actors and the audience are in the same room, and just as the audience can see and hear the performers, the performers can see and hear the audience. Please ask your students to avoid disturbing those around them. Please no talking or unnecessary or disruptive movement during the performance. Also, please remind students that cellphones should be switched completely off. No texting or tweeting, please. When students give their full attention to the action on the stage, they will be rewarded the best performance possible.


Instead of instructing students to remain totally silent, please discuss the difference between appropriate responses (laughter, applause, participation when requested) and inappropriate noise (talking, cell phones, etc).


Please do not leave or allow students to leave during the performance except in absolute emergencies. Again, reminding them to use the restrooms before the performance will help eliminate unnecessary disruption.







e atr T he


At its core, drama is about characters working toward goals and overcoming obstacles. Ask students to use their bodies and voices to create characters who are: very old, very young, very strong, very weak, very tired, very energetic, very cold, very warm. Have their characters interact with others. Give them an objective to fulfill despite environmental obstacles. Later, recap by asking how these obstacles affected their characters and the pursuit of their

Most (but not all) plays begin with a script — a story to be told and a blueprint of how to tell it. In his famous treatise, The Poetics, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle outlined that playwrights are mindful of to this day:


What is the story line? What happened before the play started? What does each character want? What do they do to achieve their goals? What do they stand to gain/lose?

Any piece of theatre comprises multiple art forms. As you explore this play with your students, examine the use of:



How are each of these art forms used in the play? Why are they used? How do they help to tell the story?


What ideas are wrestled with in the play? What questions does the play pose? Does it present an opinion?


Who are the people in the story? What are their relationships? Why do they do what they do? How do their ages/status/etc. affect them?


What do the characters say? How do they say it? When do

they say it?


How do music and sound help to tell the story?


What visual elements support the play? This could include: puppets, scenery, costumes, dance, movement, and more.

Other Elements:Conflict/Resolution, Action, Improvisation, Non-verbal communication, Staging, Humor, Realism and other styles, Metaphor, Language, Tone, Pattern & Repetition, Emotion, Point of view. 6


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Most plays utilize designers to create the visual world of the play through scenery, costumes, lighting, and more. These artists use

ELEMENTS OF DESIGN to communicate information about the world within the play and its characters.

LINE can have length, width, texture,

direction and curve. There are 5 basic varieties: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, and zig-zag.


is two-dimensional and encloses space. It can be geometric (e.g. squares and circles), man-made, or freeform.

FORM is three-dimensional. It encloses space

and fills space. It can be geometric (e.g. cubes and cylinders), man-made, or free-form.

SPACE is defined and determined by shapes and forms. Positive space is enclosed by shapes and forms, while negative space exists around them.


has three basic properties: HUE is the name of the color (e.g. red, blue, green), INTENSITY is the strength of the color (bright or dull), VALUE is the range of lightness to darkness.

TEXTURE refers to the “feel” of an object’s surface. It

can be smooth, rough, soft, etc. Textures may be ACTUAL (able to be felt) or IMPLIED (suggested visually through the artist’s technique).


Have students discuss these elements BEFORE attending the performance and ask them to pay special attention to how these elements are used in the production’s design. Whether your students are observing a piece of visual art (painting, sculpture, photograph) or a piece of performance art (play, dance), allow them first to notice the basic elements, then encourage them to look deeper into why these elements are used the way they are. 7



Dear Educator, Live theatre is a place for people to gather and experience the joys, triumphs, and sorrows life has to offer through a shared experience. Syracuse Stage Education Department is committed to providing the tools to make learning in and through the arts possible, to address varied learning styles and make connections to curriculum and life itself. It is our goal in the education department to maximize the theatre experience for our education partners with experiential learning and in-depth arts programming. Thank you for your interest and support!


Lauren Unbekant Director of Educational Outreach






Tony Kushner

Born in New York City in 1956, and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Tony Kushner is best known for his two-part epic, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. Kushner has translated and adapted Pierre Corneille’s The Illusion, S.Y. Ansky’s The Dybbuk, Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Sezuan and Mother Courage and Her Children; and the Englishlanguage libretto for the children’s opera Brundibár by Hans Krasa. He wrote the Photo Credit: Joan Marcus screenplays for Mike Nichols’ film of Angels In America, and Steven Spielberg’s Munich. His books include But the Giraffe, A Curtain Raising, and Brundibar: the Libretto, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak; The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to the Present; and Wrestling with Zion: Progressive JewishAmerican Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, co-edited with Alisa Solomon. Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, an Emmy Award, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, an Oscar nomination, an Arts Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Mid-Career Playwright, a Spirit of Justice Award from the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and a Cultural Achievement Award from The National Foundation for Jewish Culture, among many others. Caroline or Change, produced in the autumn of 2006 at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, received the Evening Standard Award, the London Drama Critics’ Circle Award and the Olivier Award for Best Musical. Tony Kushner lives in Manhattan with his husband, Mark Harris. (Source: barclayagency.com/Kushner.html) COMPOSER

Jeanine Tesori

Jeanine Tesori, who was born in 1961, made her Broadway debut arranging dance music for the 1995 revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. In 1997 she composed the score for the offBroadway musical Violet which won her an Obie Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, and the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical. In 2000, Tesori and lyricist Dick Scanlan wrote new songs for a stage adaptation of the film Thoroughly Modern Millie, for which Tesori was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Original Score and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music. Her most recent stage project is Shrek the Musical, which earned her both Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for her music. Tesori has also composed music for several films, including Nights in Rodanthe, Shrek the Third, and The Emperor’s New Groove 2: Kronk’s New Groove. Tesori has collaborated with Tony Kushner three times, supplying music for Caroline, or Change in 2004, a new translation of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and her Children in 2006, and the world premiere of Blizzard at Marblehead Neck at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival in July 2011. Caroline garnered her a second Tony nomination for Best Original Score. Jeanine Tesori won the 1999 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music in a Play for Nicholas Hynter’s production of Twelfth Night at Lincoln Center and the 2004 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music for Caroline, or Change. http://www.guidetomusicaltheatre.com/biographies/tesori.html





Caroline, or Change unfolds in Lake Charles Louisiana in 1963 against the background of the Civil Rights Movement, our burgeoning involvement in Viet Nam, and the death of John F. Kennedy. Eight-year-old Noah Gellman has a strong emotional attachment to Caroline Thibodeaux, a black woman who works as a maid for his family. Noah’s mother has died and his musician father has recently remarried. Rose, the stepmother, is determined to instill a sense of responsibility in Noah, so she tells Caroline she can have whatever change Noah has carelessly left in his pockets when she does the laundry. Even though Caroline Thibodeaux: The Gellman’s AfricanCaroline is struggling to support her family, she is American maid uncomfortable with this arrangement. Noah, however, Emmie Thibodeaux: 16 years old, Caroline’s is thrilled. He happily leaves quarters in his pockets, daughter. She is strongly supportive of the Civil imagining himself lauded as a benefactor by CaroRights Movement. line’s children. All this changes when he absentmindedly leaves a Chanukkah gift in his pants pocket. Joe Thibodeaux: Caroline’s younger son


Caroline, or Change is a sung through musical, which means all the dialogue is sung. It’s sometimes referred to as a pocket opera (a term which takes on a punnish turn in this show!). Caroline deals with common people living their lives at a very specific point in history. Their world and America itself are about to change irrevocably. Jeanine Tesori’s score revels in the cultural mix of Lake Charles, Louisiana at mid-century. It pulsates with the rhythms of Motown, spirituals, blues, Klezmer (traditional Jewish music), and Broadway.



Jackie Thibodeaux: Caroline’s youngest son

Dotty Moffett: A friend of Caroline,

who also works as a maid. She is attending college.

Noah Gellman: Stuart Gellman’s son. He is highly affected by his mother’s death and his father’s remarriage.

Stuart Gellman: Noah’s father. He is a professional clarinetist.

Grandpa and Grandma Gellman: Stuart’s parents

Rose Stopnick Gellman: Noah’s

stepmother, a friend of the family who marries Stuart after his first wife’s death. She is trying to win over her new stepson.

Mr. Stopnick: Rose’s father. He comes from New York to celebrate Chanukkah with his daughter’s new family.

The Domestic Appliances: The Radio, The

Washing Machine, The Clothes Dryer- All portrayed by actors, the appliances comment on events, sooth or antagonize Caroline.

The Moon: Also portrayed by an actor The Bus: Also personified by an actor, transports the African American characters. 10



SYRACUSE STAGE CAROLINE OR CHANGE STUDENT STUDY GUIDE 2011-12 The following articles are excerpted from a play guide to Caroline, or Change originally created for The Human Race Theatre Company, Dayton, Ohio By Rob Hartmann and David Buscher

“Caroline, or Change tells a story I’ve been thinking about for many years. It’s partly based on an incident from my childhood, grounded in memories from my early life. I wanted to write about race relations, the Civil Rights movement, and African-Americans and southern Jews in the early 1960s, a time of protean change sweeping the country – and to write about these things from the perspective of a small, somewhat isolated southern town. I grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana during this period. Change was taking place in Lake Charles, of course, but in a more subterranean fashion, and at a different pace, than elsewhere in America.” – Tony Kushner, from the introduction to the published script of Caroline, or Change.


IN LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA The city of Lake Charles lies in southwestern Louisiana, about 200 miles west of New Orleans. In 1963, when Caroline, or Change takes place, Lake Charles was home to approximately 63,000 people, with another 82,000 in the surrounding area (Calcasieu Parish). The population at the time was roughly 75% white and 25% African-American; today, it’s almost evenly split between white and black citizens.

“This is not a story that actually happened. My mother didn’t die when I was eight years old, thank God. But she did get very sick with cancer when I was twelve, [which] provoked a lot of difficulties in our lives. My mother was a progressive woman. I think she was uncomfortable having an African American woman doing her laundry in the middle of the Civil Rights movement. She grew up in great poverty in the Bronx. She believed that every nickel we left in our clothes was a treasure.”

Tony Kushner based the Gellman family in Caroline, or Change on his own family: eight-year-old Noah is a combination of Tony Kushner and his younger brother, Eric; Tony Kushner’s father, William, is a clarinetist, and his mother, Sylvia, played the bassoon...After marrying in 1948, they pursued their musical careers in New York, playing in the orchestra of the New York City Opera. Their daughter Lesley was born in 1954, followed by Tony in 1956. Two years later, the family moved to Lake Charles, where William’s parents owned a lumber business. Sylvia taught bassoon, while William eventually became the conductor of the local symphony. Their son Eric was born in 1961.

Ms. Davis, the mother of six, took the bus to the Kushner home five days a week, where she cleaned, cooked, and did the laundry. (Just as in the play, the Kushner home had a basement, which was rare for Louisiana.) Tony Kushner recalls, “I was impressed with her reserve, her incredible strength and dignity, and I guess a certain sense of courage.” Sylvia Kushner’s cancer eventually returned, and she passed away in 1990. Ms. Davis continued to work for William Kushner once a week in Lake Charles. In 2004, when Caroline, or Change opened on Broadway, Ms. Davis and her daughter Carolyn attended opening night. After the performance, Tony Kushner approached her for her reaction:

The Kushners lived near the lake, just around the corner from the fictional address of the Gellman home in Caroline, or Change, 913 St. Anthony Street (St. Anthony Street exists – but number 913 does not). In 1960, Mrs. Kushner hired a maid, Maudie Lee Davis, who would work for the Kushner family for the next 45 years, and who would eventually become the inspiration for the character of Caroline Thibodeaux. Tony Kushner is adamant that the story of Caroline, or Change is not completely autobiographical:


“I asked her, ‘Do you think that character is anything like you? ‘She said that she loved ‘Caroline.’ It made her cry. And she told me that she liked Caroline, the character. But no, she said: They weren’t the same. But her daughter was standing right behind her, making faces at me! I understood. She thought that I had gotten her mother just right.”



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“One of my most vivid memories from childhood is from the day of Martin Luther King’s funeral. I watched it on TV with Maudie Lee Davis, the woman who worked as my family’s maid. Maudie cried throughout the broadcast, and I was both frightened and impressed. I felt her powerful grief connected us, her and me and my quiet hometown, with the struggle I knew was being waged in the world, in history. It was an instant in which one feels that one is being changed as the world is changed, and I believe I was.”– Tony Kushner In Caroline, or Change, Emmie (Caroline’s daughter) and Mr. Stopnick (Rose’s father, visiting from New York) get into a heated discussion about the tactics of nonviolent resistance advocated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the quest for equal rights for African-Americans. Dr. King first came to national prominence during the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott in 1955. After Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat on the bus to a white passenger, Dr. King (pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery), along with other African-American leaders, organized a boycott of the bus company which lasted over a year. The boycott ended only when the Supreme Court declared Alabama’s segregation laws unconstitutional. Dr. King became a national leader in the struggle for civil rights. In 1963, the year that Caroline, or Change takes place, Dr. King led nonviolent sit-ins in Birmingham, Alabama, which spurred the Birmingham police to attack the protestors with fire hoses and police dogs. The images of the Birmingham police’s brutality (led by the chief of police Eugene “Bull” Connor) against the peaceful marchers turned public sentiment further against segregation. Arrested during the protests, Dr. King wrote his well-known “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. . . . In August of 1963, he lead the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he delivered his speech, “I Have A Dream.” “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom writespirit.net and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!” In 1964, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; he continued to work tirelessly for the political and social equality of African-Americans. On April 4, 1968, he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. His funeral was held on April 9th, 1968. It was watched by millions on television – including, in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Maudie Lee Davis and twelve-year-old Tony Kushner. 12

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NOVEMBER 22, 1963

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Caroline, or Change begins on November 22, 1963, the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy had come to Texas in preparation for campaigning for re-election in 1964: winning Texas and Florida would be crucial. On Friday morning, November 22nd, President Kennedy gave a speech in Fort Worth, Texas and then made the short flight to Dallas, where he and Mrs. Kennedy were met by Texas Governor John Connally and his wife. The Kennedys and the Connallys were driven in an open convertible on a route through downtown Dallas toward the Trade Mart, where President Kennedy was expected to make a speech. As the motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza at 12:30 p.m., President Kennedy was struck by gunshots to the head and neck. Governor Connally was shot in the chest. The President was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:00 pm. Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President at 2:48 p.m. aboard Air Force One. The lament sung by the bus in Caroline, or Change recalls Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1850 epic poem, “The Building of the Ship”: Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State! Sail on, o union, strong and great! Humanity with all its fears, With all the hopes of future years, Is hanging breathless on thy fate! In Caroline, or Change, the “ship of state” is reimagined as a bus – a symbole of the Montgomery bus boycott that began the Civil http://www.britannica.com/bps/media-view/119462/0/0/0 Rights Movement. Kennedy reached a narrow electoral victory by appealing to a broad spectrum of minority voters. He was seen as a supporter of equal rights for black Americans and received over seventy percent of the AfricanAmerican vote. Once elected, his progress toward enacting civil rights legislation was slow. Hindered by a slim congressional majority, he was unable to make headway for two years. In June of 1963, he addressed the nation on television, after the Alabama National Guard was required to enforce the admittance of two students at the University of Alabama. He said, in part: “It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or his color. In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case. . . . I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public--hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments. This seems to me to be an elementary right. Its denial is an indignity that no American in 1963 should have to endure, but many do.” After President Kennedy’s assassination, President Johnson advocated for the passage of the legislation, saying to Congress, “No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the Civil Rights bill for which he fought so long.” President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2, 1964. The Act barred most forms of racial discrimination, including unequal requirements for voter registration, segregation of schools and public facilities, and discriminatory employment and housing practices.

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“That old copper statue? By the courthouse downtown? . . . .Ain’t there no more, it ain’t there no more.”

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In Caroline, or Change, the characters discuss a statue of a Confederate soldier that is toppled from its place on the courthouse lawn. It is found in a bayou – without its head. In Lake Charles, Louisiana, there is indeed a statue at the courthouse called “The South’s Defenders,” nicknamed “Johnny Reb.” The six-foot, 200-pound copper statue of a Confederate soldier, perched on a high marble column, was commissioned by the local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy and unveiled June 3, 1915. Unlike similar Confederate memorials, this soldier holds a flag instead of a rifle. The base carries the dates of the Civil War,1861 – 1885, and the words “Our Heroes.” As of 2011, the statue still stands at the corner of Ryan and Kirby Streets in front of Calcasieu Parish Courthouse in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Although it was never decapitated, it did survive once being thrown from its column. A hurricane in 1918 blew the statue off its base. It is said that the statue flipped in mid-air and landed on its feet on the lawn of the courthouse. It has survived other hurricanes throughout the years with minimal damage. In the early 1990s, the statue was repaired, and rededicated in 1995.




The first recorded Jewish settler reached the small village of Lake Charles (population 500) in 1879. He was Leopold Kaufman, originally from Alsace-Lorraine, France. Eventually he would become one of the leading citizens of the town, helping to organize the building of Temple Sinai in 1904 (where, many years later, the Kushner family would be members of the congregation). The American South is not usually thought of as a haven of Jewish culture. Although today only a small fraction of southerners are Jewish (approximately one percent), this was not always the case. Some of America’s earliest Jewish settlements were in Savannah, New Orleans, and Charleston. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Charleston’s Jewish community was the largest in the country. Many Jewish settlers in the southern U.S. made their living in the mercantile trade, beginning by traveling from town to town, and eventually choosing a community in which to open a business. Many southern small towns had what was known as the “Jew store,” a dry-goods store run by the local Jewish family. A number of these businesses would eventually grow into major department stores. Although anti-Semitism was certainly present at times, most southern Jews assimilated fairly easily into their communities, becoming leaders in business and civic organizations. One of the greatest difficulties that Jews living in the South faced was the challenge of maintaining religious and cultural traditions in small, isolated Jewish communities. Excluding Florida, which has a growing Jewish population because of its popularity as a retirement destination, the number of Jews across the South has been slowly and steadily declining. The Jewish population of the entire state of Louisiana was estimated in 1960 to be 16,500. This number has remained almost unchanged, while the overall population of the state has grown considerably: from approximately 3,250,000 in 1960 to almost 4,500,000 in 2000. In Lake Charles, the Jewish population is estimated to be one-tenth: 69 people. Temple Sinai, where Tony Kushner had his bar mitzvah in 1970, still stands in Lake Charles. The Temple recently produced its first rabbinical student in its hundred-year history, Rebekah Goldman. 14

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Chanukah (often spelled Hanukkah) is the eight day Festival of Lights, celebrated beginning on Kislev Twenty-Five (the 25th day of the third month of the Hebrew calendar, which falls in November or December). The festival commemorates the “Chanukah Miracle”: in the second century BCE, the Maccabees in Jerusalem revolted against the forces of King Antiochus. After the battle, they discovered they had only enough oil to keep the menorah (candelabrum) burning for one day. Amazingly, the flame lasted for eight days.

In Caroline, or Change, the Gellman family celebrates Chanukah with a number of traditional practices: • Lighting the menorah, the nine-branched candleabrum. The menorah holds one candle for each night of Chanukah, plus an additional candle, the shamash, which is used to light the others.

A BISL YIDDISH (A bit of Yiddish)

Yiddish, which means Jewish, is a language originating in Eastern Europe, combining elements of German, Hebrew, and other languages. Here are some of the Yiddish terms used by the Gellman family: “oy vontzeleh, oy pishkeleh”: A vontz is a bedbug; used in the diminutive form, vontzeleh, it’s a term of endearment from grandparents to grandchild – like calling someone “cute as a bug.” Pishkeleh is something like calling someone fondly “little squirt.” (Interestingly, a pishka is a little jar where one would keep loose coins.) “such a shonde”, “such a tsimmes”: Shonde = a shame. Tsimmes = a fuss “Down with the filthy capitalist chazzerim”: Chazzerim = pigs, greedy persons. A chazzer is a person who eats greedily, like an animal. Bubeleh: sweetheart, darling “She’s making bupkes”: Bupkes literally means beans, but it has taken on the meaning of “nothing.”

• Noah says the traditional blessing as he lights the first candle: Boruch ata adonai eloheinu melech ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanoo l’hadlich ner shel Chanukah which means: “Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah light.” • The elder Gellmans mention the dreidel. A dreidel is a four-sided top; each face of the top is inscribed with a Hebrew letter. These four letters – Nun, Gimel, Hey, Shin – are an acronym for the Hebrew phrase Nes Gadol Haya Sham, which means “A great miracle happened there.” • Caroline prepares latkes for the Gellman family. The potato pancakes, a traditional Chanukah food, are fried in chicken fat and served with applesauce. • Noah receives Chanukah gelt (in Yiddish, gelt means money). Gelt can come in the form of chocolate “coins,” or can be a gift of actual currency, from coins to larger amounts. Noah is given a twenty-dollar bill, which becomes pivotal in the story of Caroline, or Change.




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As the loose change from Noah’s pockets gradually accumulates in Caroline’s bleach cup, both Caroline and Noah imagine what could be bought with the dimes, nickels, and quarters.

Some advertisements in the November 22, 1963 issue of the local paper in Lake Charles list the following prices: • four men’s white dress shirts for $12.50 • a pair of wool blend dress pants for $10.98 • adult movie ticket, 90 cents; child’s movie ticket, 25 cents • new houses ranging from $9,500 to $20,000 Interestingly, the prices for a high-end television were higher than what they would be today: a 23” color television mounted in a cabinet with radio and speakers was offered for $399 – about $2,800 in modern dollars. (As technology has advanced, the price for electronics has dropped over the years.) Caroline’s thirty-dollar-a-week salary translates into about $215 today – around $5.40 an hour for a forty-hour week. The classified ads in a 1963 Lake Charles newspaper are a reminder of how employment laws have changed: jobs were separated into “Male Help Wanted” and “Female Help Wanted.” Some of the “Male Help Wanted Ads” offered to pay $95 a week for “manager trainees” or $1.95 an hour ($78 a week) for a traveling sales position. Under “Female Help Wanted,” some ads specified things like “Middle-aged white lady to live in and do housekeeping”; “Colored girl wanted to live in, do housework and babysitting”; “Housekeeper, white or colored, live on premises, care for two small children.” The long-distance call that Rose has with her father would have been somewhat expensive: approximately one dollar (in 1963 dollars) for the first three minutes!


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In 1963, a dollar had greater buying power than it does today. Fifteen cents in 1963 would buy about what a dollar does in 2011. The dollar that Noah leaves in his pants pocket would be equivalent to roughly seven dollars today. And the worth of Noah’s Chanukah gift of twenty dollars? Almost $150.

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Questions for DISCUSSION & ESSAY

1• Caroline, or Change has been described as a “pocket opera.” Why do you think the authors made the decision to set all the dialogue to music? Can you imagine Caroline, or Change as a play without music? How might it be different?

2• Caroline, or Change has several inanimate objects which sing: the radio, the washer, the dryer, the bus, the moon. Why do you think these characters were included? Did they add to the story for you? Why, or why not? 3• Is there a particular character you identified with? Why? 4• Compare the parent-child relationships between Caroline and her daughter Emmie, and between Stuart and his son Noah. Are there similarities? 5• Veanne Cox, the actress who played Rose Stopnick Gellman in the original production of Caroline, or Change, has said that the role was difficult to play at times because of the audience’s reaction to the character: “. . . it was very difficult to go back to 1963 and play to an audience that exists in 2004 and do the things that I’m asked to do, which is to offer [Caroline] literally pennies. And it’s embarrassing. One of my greatest achievements in the role is just getting over my own reaction to the pettiness of the gesture in today’s ideals. . . I felt like I apologized a lot just for my existence.” What was your own reaction to Rose and her interactions with Noah and Caroline? Could she have done anything differently? 6• Authors Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori have said they wanted to play against audience expectations in Caroline, or Change. Was there anything about the story which surprised you? Were you expecting the story to turn out differently than it did? 7• How do Caroline and Noah change one another? 8• Why do you think the authors chose to end the play with Emmie, rather than with Caroline (or Noah)?




ChildDrama.com http://www.childdrama.com/lessons.html

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ArtsWork.com http://artswork.asu.edu/arts/teachers/resources/theatre1.htm



Educational Theatre Association http://schooltheatre.org/ Kennedy Center http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/educators/lessons.aspx Viola Spolin http://www.spolin.com/ Princeton Online Art Lesson Plans http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/Files/elements.htm

SOURCES AND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caroline,_or_Change www.courttheatre.org/pdf/guides/Caroline_StudyGuide.pdf www.humanracetheatre.org/caroline-low-res.pdf en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanine_Tesori en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Kushner www.barclayagency.com/kushner.html Tony Kushner: ‘Caroline, or Change’ : NPRwww.npr.org › Arts & Life › Performing Artshttp://www. guthrietheater.org/sites/default/files/playguide_CarolineorChange.pdf www.jewish-theatre.com/visitor/article_display.aspx?articleID=691


Profile for Syracuse Stage

Caroline or Change: A Musical  

Caroline or Change: A Musical- Study Guide

Caroline or Change: A Musical  

Caroline or Change: A Musical- Study Guide

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