I'm Not Rappaport

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the 1996 film, see I'm Not Rappaport (film).
I'm Not Rappaport
Written by Herb Gardner
Characters Nat
The Cowboy
Date premiered 1984
Place premiered Seattle Repertory Theatre
Seattle, Washington
Original language English
Genre Comedy
Setting A park bench in Central Park; October 1982

I'm Not Rappaport is a play by Herb Gardner, originally staged by Seattle Repertory Theatre in 1984. Its Broadway debut production—directed by Daniel Sullivan, and starring Judd Hirsch, Cleavon Little, Jace Alexander, and Mercedes Ruehl—opened on November 19, 1985 at the Booth Theatre, where it ran for 891 performances. The production received Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Lighting Design, and Best Actor (for Hirsch's performance).

In 2002, after 15 previews, a revival re-opened at the Booth on 25 July, where it ran for an additional 53 performances. Again directed by Sullivan, Hirsch reprised his role and was joined by Ben Vereen.


Inspired by two elderly men Gardner met in New York City's Central Park, the play focuses on Nat Moyer, a feisty Jew, and Midge Carter, a cantankerous African-American, who spend their days sitting on a bench. They both mask the realities of aging, sharing tall tales that Nat spins. The play touches on several issues, including society's treatment of the aging, the difficulties dealing with adult children who think they know what's best for their parents, and the dangers that lurk in urban areas.

Its title comes from an old vaudeville joke, a variation of which evolved into dialogue between the two protagonists:

  • Nat: Hey, Rappaport! I haven't seen you in ages. How have you been?
  • Midge: I'm not Rappaport.
  • Nat: Rappaport, what happened to you? You used to be a short fat guy, and now you're a tall skinny guy.
  • Midge: I'm not Rappaport.
  • Nat: Rappaport, you used to be a young guy with a beard, and now you're an old guy with a mustache.
  • Midge: I'm not Rappaport.
  • Nat: Rappaport, how has this happened? You used to be a cowardly little white guy, and now you're a big imposing black guy.
  • Midge: I'm not Rappaport.
  • Nat: And you changed your name, too!

Film adaptation[edit]

The 1996 film version, written and directed by Gardner, starred Walter Matthau, Ossie Davis, Amy Irving, Craig T. Nelson, Martha Plimpton, Peter Friedman, and Ron Rifkin.

Stage productions in Europe[edit]

In 1986 at the Apollo Theatre London, the part of Nat was played by Paul Scofield.[1]

In 2012, a theatre group in Germany had come under fire for allowing a white actor to paint his face and take the part of the black character Midge Carter on stage.[2] This was not an isolated case.[3][4]

Awards and nominations[edit]



  1. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/paul-scofield-oscarwinning-actor-whose-phenomenal-range-was-unmatched-in-his-generation-798984.html
  2. ^ [1] BBC, January 10, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2012
  3. ^ [2] Homepage of Theater Krefeld/Mönchengladbach. Retrieved August 16, 2012
  4. ^ [3] Webpage of Pascale Bordet. Retrieved August 16, 2012

External links[edit]