Limelight Theatre, Summer 2010
Katie Wyant, Dramaturg
13 began its big-name run at the Mark Taper Forum In Los Angeles in early 2007. From there, the show
moved to Goodspeed in Connecticut in spring of 2008 before making its Broadway debut in the fall of
2009. The show ran for 22 previews and 105 performances before closing in January of 2009. The
professional productions featured an all-teen cast, as well as an all-teen onstage band.
Jason Robert Brown (music and lyrics) is a well-known, award-winning songwriter. Brown won the
Drama Desk Awards for Best Music and Best Lyric for his musical The Last Five Years, as well as a 1999
Tony Award for his score to Parade. Brown’s first musical, Songs for a New World, is also well known.
Dan Elish (book) is a children’s and young adult fiction writer, including the novels Nine Wives (2005)
and The Misadventures of Justin Hearnfeld (2008).
Robert Horn (book) joined as co-librettist prior to the Broadway performance.
The Bar Mitzvah:
“Bar Mitzvah” literally means “son of the commandment.” When a Jewish boy turns 13, he is considered
an “adult”. Prior to the age of 13 (or 12 for girls), children are not obligated to observe the
commandments. Once a child has become Bar or Bat Mitzvah, he or she is responsible for observing the
commandments, and has the right to participate in religious services and form binding contracts.
Bar Mitzvah candidates (or “celebrants”) usually study for a year prior to their 13th birthdays. Their
studies include Hebrew language (written and spoken) along with Jewish history and law. A formal
ceremony is not necessary to become Bar or Bat Mitzvah; the rights are automatically conferred on the
child’s birthday. The modern ceremony and celebrations are a relatively recent invention.
Early on, the celebrant was simply called up to the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) to
recite a blessing over the weekly reading. Now, it is common for a celebrant to learn an entire haftorah
cantillation and recite it (it is sung entirely in Hebrew). Then the celebrant gives a speech, often
beginning with “Today, I am a man.”
After the religious ceremony, modern Jewish parents often through an elaborate party, sometimes
comparable to a wedding reception. Gifts are often given, including monetary gifts given in increments
Sephardic Pronunciation of Haftorah Cantillation:
KOH-AMAR HA’EL ADOSHEM BORE HASHAMAYIM
KO-ahMAR1 hah’Eh`L Ah-do-SHEM bor-Eh hah-shah-mah-YEEM
VENOTEYHEM ROKA HA’ARETS VETSE’ETSA’EYHA NOTEN
Vehn-oh-teh-YEHM ro-KAH hah-ah-ah-REHTS veh-tseh-ehts-ah-eh-YAH noh-TEHN
NESHAMAH LA’AM ALEYHA VERUACH LACHOLECHIM BAH
Neh-Shah-MAH lah-AHM ah-leh-YAH veh-roo-AHKH2 lakh-oh-lekh-EEM bah
In Hebrew, most words are pronounced with stress on the last syllable.
The “ch” (transliterated “kh”) are pronounced in the back of the throat, as in the German “Ach!”.
To hear this verse pronounced, go to http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1042.htm , and fast
forward the audio player to about :36 seconds.
“Muscular Dystrophy” describes nine different genetic disorders characterized by progressive muscle
deterioration. Muscular dystrophies are caused by an inherited genetic mutation that causes either a
shortage or a lack of the protein “dystrophin”. The disease usually affects men and boys; Women can be
carriers of the gene, but are usually asymptomatic.
Archie likely suffers from either Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) or Becker Muscular Dystrophy
(BMD). With both DMD and BMD, muscle weakness begins in the legs and pelvis and worsens over
time. DMD has an early onset and progresses quickly, while BMD surfaces much later and develops
much more slowly. Based on Archie’s age and symptoms, he most likely suffers from DMD.
A boy with Duchenne MD usually exhibits symptoms by the age of six. The most apparent symptom is
quickly progressing muscle weakness. The weakness generally begins in the legs and pelvis, but can also
include (though less severely) the arms, neck, and torso. One early indication of DMD is known as
Gower’s Sign, used by DMD sufferers to stand up from the floor. The boy begins on all fours, straightens
his legs, then walks his hands up his legs to a full standing position. Other symptoms can include fatigue
and mental retardation (Archie does not appear to suffer from any mental setbacks). Weakening heart
muscle often leads to fluid retention and shortness of breath, while decreased lung function may cause
headaches and difficulty concentrating.
Many boys with DMD lose the ability to walk by the age of 12. Those who can still walk have distinctive
gait. Here is a description from the Muscular Dystrophy Association:
“By school age, the child may walk on his toes, or the balls of his feet, with a lightly rolling gait.
He has a waddling and unsteady gait and can easily fall over. To try to keep his balance, he sticks
his belly out and puts his shoulders back.”3
DMD patients may also develop spinal curvatures, including scoliosis or kyphosis (“hunchback”). These
generally develop after full-time wheel chair use, but the “swayback” curvature (Lordosis) is sometimes
seen in those who can still walk.
Contractures, or fixations of the joints, can also occur as muscle condition worsens. These can affect the
knees, hips, feet, elbows, wrists and fingers. Contractures are surgically treatable; contractures in the
feel or legs can be stabilized with braces.
The muscular deterioration associated with DMD is not painful in itself, though some cramping may
occur. DMD sufferers experience normal touch sensations as well as the other senses (normal sexual
functions are likely). Involuntary muscles, such as the bladder and bowels, remain under control.
There is no known treatment for DMD. Corticosteroids have been shown to slow the course of DMD;
this is probably the medication Archie refers to when speaking to Evan’s mother. Death usually occurs
by age 25, typically from heart and lung complications.
Common Physical Presentations of DMD
Peyes: “sidelocks,” referring to the locks of hair that grow in front of the ears. In Orthodox Jewish
tradition, men and boys do not cut this part off their hair, but grow it long, and often wear them
in curls. The peyes (or “peyots”) are part what many consider the “traditional” Rabbinic dress.
“Koh-Amar Ha’El…”: the start of the verse Isaiah 42:5. The verse in English reads:
Thus says the Lord, Adoshem4 Who creates the heavens and stretches them forth; Who spreads
out the earth and [brings out] its produce; Who gives a soul to the people upon it and a spirit to
those who walk on it:
The chapter continues:
I, Adoshem, have called you in righteousness and will strengthen your hand. I will watch over
you, having appointed you over the Covenantal people and a light to the nations, to open blind
eyes, to release prisoners from confinement and dwellers in darkness from the dungeon.
Bar Mitzvah: literally, “Son of the commandment.” In modern vernacular, the term usually applies to the
traditional ceremony in which a boy of 13 assumes the spiritual responsibilities of a man.
“Adoshem” is a substitute for writing a Name of God. In the Jewish tradition, a Name of God is not written down
often, in order to prevent anyone from destroyed or defacing the Name, whether accidentally or not. “Adonai” is
the Name of God used in the spoken verse.
Mishegoss: Yiddish for “craziness”; pronounced “Mish-eh-GOSS”
Haftorah (or “haftarah”): a reading from the Prophets, read along with the weekly Torah portion at the
synagogue; pronounced “hahf-TOH-ruh”.
Inbreeding: the mating of two closely related persons or animals; Patrice is making a reference to a
stereotype about country
Chippewa: the third largest Native American Nation, the Chippewa tribe settled near and around the
Great Lakes, including parts of Indiana; Also known as the “Ojibwa”.
Oblivious: absent-minded, unaware, even confused.
Epiphany: a sudden, often life-changing insight.
Dan Quayle: served as Vice-President under George H.W. Bush; also served as a U.S. Representative and
Senator from Indiana.
Conduit: a means by which something is transmitted (often refers to fluids or electricity)
Jerry Lewis: American actor and comedian, as well as the national chair of the Muscular Dystrophy
Association (MDA). Lewis is probably best remembered for his annual telethons for the MDA.
Stymied: stumped, or frustrated; confounded.
Terminal Illness: a medical condition that cannot be treated and will, within all reason, end in the death
of the patient.
Succubus: Legendary female demon who sustained herself by drawing energy from human men, which
she obtained by seducing them in while they slept.
Unenlightened: without spiritual or intellectual understanding and knowledge.
Kipah: skull cap worn by Jewish men during religious services; more commonly known as a yarmulke.
Bimah: the pedestal or podium where the Torah scrolls are placed while being read; comparable to a
For further information:
Muscular Dystrophy: http://www.mda.org/publications/fa-dmdbmd-what.html#affect
The playwright: http://www.jasonrobertbrown.com/about/