A librarian awakens in 'Underneath the Lintel' at PACA

Contributing writer

Craig Schneider has many things in common with the character he portrays in Glen Berger's one-man show "Underneath the Lintel," which he is directing for PACA.

He's about the same age, with a penchant for pondering the mysteries of life and storing up tidbits of historical trivia. He also worked in a library. So, Schneider brings some of himself to the role of an eccentric librarian whose humble life is disrupted when a book more than a century overdue arrives. That sends him on a globe-trotting quest, awakening long-submerged skills and emotions.

Schneider shared his thoughts on the 75-minute play that blends mystery, fantasy, drama and comedy. 

Discovering the Play

"I was up in Rochester in a chess tournament, and between rounds, I was reading the newspaper. This play was being performed in Rochester, and I read the review and thought, 'Wow, this is great! If I ever have the chance to do this, I would like to do it.' And PACA is kind of the ideal space for it."

Glen Berger

"He's a Jewish writer, but this play isn't specifically Jewish, though it's done a lot in Jewish theater ... It's the first play he wrote, and one thing I've noticed is that writers' first plays are many times their best."

The Librarian

"The main character is a Dutch librarian, and it's kind of interesting; he doesn't really have a name because he's so insignificant and nobody notices him. He kind of lives a quiet life working at a library all the days of his life, and there's a lot of empty boredom until one day, when he finds the book in the overnight return slot ..."

Emotional Show

"In my script, I like to write words down, emotions that carry through ... Passion. Regret. Longing. Resilience. Defiance. Transcendence. Obsessiveness. Loneliness. Integrity. That you were here and it mattered. Comic manic intensity. These are the things I hope to bring out, and I hope other people identify with them." 

Dancing Despite It All

"I added a bit to the show in terms of dancing and costume changes. It's kind of unique in that it uses power point and music from the early 1900s. (Berger) wrote in his notes that he was thinking of klezmer music when he wrote the play, which is very happy, dancing despite it all. That's what this guy does. He keeps saying, 'And we proceed.' He keeps going on."

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Tags: lintel, paca, times


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