A Black Canopy, A Black Sky


Elie Wiesel’s first stage production, this one-act play was originally performed in 1968 to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. Set in an underground bunker in a Polish ghetto, the play explores the effects of overwhelming evil on the minds of innocent human beings. A married couple, Mendel and Sarah, are hiding in the bunker. A few months earlier, Mendel was taken prisoner and faced death. He survived the experience but believed that his wife, Sarah, had suffered the same fate and was killed. To cope with his grief, Mendel created an imaginary woman, Chava, to be his wife. Inside the bunker, Mendel is convinced that he is awaiting the return of Chava. A maggid (an itinerant Jewish preacher) offers to marry Mendel and Chava when she returns. Sarah must explain to the maggid her husband’s confusion. However, Sarah confesses that she too is questioning her own existence. Desperation is beginning to cloud her perception. Did she really die? Is Chava real? The maggid struggles to decipher the truth. All he can see is a black canopy under a black sky.
Format: One-act play
Cast Size: 4M/1F
Character breakdown




Elie Wiesel moved to New York City in 1955 and subsequently became an American citizen. In the U.S., he wrote over 40 books and won many literary prizes. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for speaking out against violence, repression and racism.

Original or Prominent Production: Premier performance by the Hadassah Players at the Jewish Community Center of Metuchen, New Jersey, 1968. With the title Di Shvartse Khupe (The Black Wedding Canopy), the play was performed at the Workmen’s Circle, New York, in 2009; directed by Shane Baker.
Nationality of Author:
Original Language: Yiddish
English Language Translator: Harry James Cargas

Published as Chapter 13 in the three-volume collection Against Silence: The Voice and Vision of Elie Wiesel (1985).

Production Rights Holder:

Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity

Experience(s) Chronicled:

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