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The Man-Child - Full Length Play, Dramatic Comedy

The Man-Child

Arnold Rabin

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Full Length Play, Dramatic Comedy

2m, 4f, 3boy(s), 1boy(s) or girl(s)


"It is both deeply moving and humorous, and works beautifully." - The Sunday Tennessean
The road to manhood is not often easy. But it certainly can be funny. In this touching account of the days preceding young Allen's Bar Mitzvah, everything that can go wrong - seems to. The nervous boy's new suit is late and a lie turns the boy against his mother. The narrator, wise old Mrs. Wishnefsky, the boy's grandmother, guides us through the story of a young boy who learns to conquer adversity in order to become a man.

More Information Below:

Description | Characters | Author | Reviews
: Acting Edition

Minimum Fee: $75 per performance


Full Length Play

Dramatic Comedy

Theatre for Young Audiences, Faith-based

Time Period - 1910s / WWI

Settings Of Play - We can divide the set simply into 3 parts: a living room, a street corner, and the altar of a religious temple.


UIL Approved, Competition or audition material

Interior Set, Exterior Set

Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes, Period Costumes


Appropriate for all audiences


Jr High/Primary, Community Theatre, Church / Religious Groups

Winner! Distinguished Play of the Year Award

This is the story of a boy's coming of age as he faces the celebration of his coming of age in the Bar Mitzvah ceremony. Given the ring his father cherished,  Allen is challenged  by friends to prove that the ring is really 14 carat gold. Taunted by his friends, Allen bites the ring, and  not knowing that gold will dent,  he believes the  ring to be  a fake. Faced by his mother  to explain why the ring is dented.  Allen, ashamed to admiit the truth, lies, saying it was an accident. His mother  prods him to tell the truth because the teeth marks are obvious. "Did you bite the ring?"  she asks, explaining that gold is a soft metal and and can easily dent. As the hour of  the Bar Mitzvah approaches, it becomes apparent that Allen cannot achieve manhood with the lie in his heart.

The situation is furrther complicated when Allen's aunt and  uncle arrive bringing his new suit for the occasion. However, the pants must be shortened, and on Friday, the tailors are closed. Nobody sews on the Sabbath. Allen's mother, a religious woman, volunteers to shorten the pants. To save his mother  from what he believes to be a sin, he admits his own  lie. And his grandmother, relieved that the boy has really achieved moral adulthood, suggests that the cuffs can be folded. Yes, sewing on the Sabbath  may be a sin, but there is no law against folding.

The play ends with Allen's participating in the critical moment of the ceremony - and even the grandmother's inviting  the audience to join in the reception.

"It is both deeply moving and humorous, and works beautifully." - The Sunday Tennessean
First produced by the Henry Street Settlement Theatre, New York City.
The Man-Child was a semi-finalist in the Third Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis Children's Theatre Playwriting Competition and was featured in a rehearsed reading at the 1989 Children's Theatre Symposium held on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.


2m, 4f, 3boy(s), 1boy(s) or girl(s)

MRS. WISHNEFSKY - the grandmother
MIRIAM (MIMLA) - the mother
PEARL GARDNER - a neighbor
ALLEN - Miriam's son
HERB - a friend of Allen
MAN IN SERVICE (non-speaking)

Arnold Rabin

Arnold Rabin began his career as a TV writer-producer-director with the networks, then as Chief of English Language Television Services for the United Nations, and finally as Administrator of Special Projects and Executive Producer for PBS. During these years his documentaries and TV plays received such commendations as a Harcourt-Brace best TV Play Citation, a New York Emmy nomination, an ... view full profile

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