Invitations to Heaven (1990)

(Questions of a Jewish Child)

“Invitations to Heaven” is the second piece of the Heaven Trilogy: a comedy, bitter and sweet, with music, dance, and Yiddish song.

A grandson seeks to redeem the memory of his grandparents, whose unpleasant marriage left many unanswered questions about the darker side of their lives. They were married by arrangement, perhaps did not even meet until their wedding day. ith1He was an artist, a dreamer. She was a practical, ambitious woman. Her money was stolen. Then her jewels. She claimed he was a thief, had a mistress, wanted her dead. He said she made his life miserable. She died. He could not live without her. They had five children.

It is Passover. The grandchild questions his grandparents about Elijah, the angel, who turns the hearts of the children to the parents and the hearts of the parents to the children. His questions have no end. He imagines himself to be Elijah, to be the healer of these poor people’s damaged dreams. Angel and grandson merge, become one. On the threshold of heaven, he meets his grandparents, and finds the answer to his questions…

Conceived and created by

Eric Bass

Directed by

Richard Edelman

Music adapted and composed by

Alan Bern

Performed by

Eric Bass and Alan Bern

“Mr. Bass’s puppets have a touching reality, as in the scene in which the grandfather is forced to recognize his indebtedness to his wife. In this moment there is an echo of one of the play’s earlier statements, ‘No choice is also a choice.’ By remaining married rather than taking the active step of separating, Mr. Bass’s grandparents laid out th egeography of their shared lives and a road map for their grandson’s rueful family remembrance.”

Mel Gussow, New York Times, October 2, 1991

“Along the way, we’re treated to Yiddish songs, dancing and music. Alan Bern provides marvelously versatile accompaniement on the accordion. Bern also adapted and composed the score, as well as being a jack-of-all-sound-effects. Richard Edelman is credited as director and collaborator. But the heart and sould of this piece is Bass’s performance and puppetry. It’s that rare breed of intensely personal statement that works well as theater.”

Steven Lally, The Globe-Times, (Bethlehem, PA) January 22, 1991

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