Student Matinee Program

Study Guide for Educators

Fiddler on the Roof
Book by Joseph Stein
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Based on Sholem Aleichem's stories by special permission of Arnold Perl
Produced on the New York Stage by Harold Prince
Original New York Stage Production Directed and Choreographed
by Jerome Robbins

Welcome to PCPA Theaterfest

Thank you for bringing your students to PCPA Theaterfest at Allan Hancock College. Here are some helpful hints for your visit to the Clark Center. The top priority of our staff is to provide an enjoyable day of live theatre for you and your students. We offer you this study guide as a tool to prepare your students prior to the performance.

Note-able behavior is a vital part of theater for youth. Going to the theater is not a casual event. It is a special occasion. If students are prepared properly, it will be a memorable, educational experience they will remember for years.

1. Have students enter the theater in a single file. Chaperones should be one adult for every ten students. Our ushers will assist you with locating your seats. Please wait until the usher has seated your party before any rearranging of seats to avoid injury and confusion. While seated, teachers should space themselves so they are visible, between every groups of ten students. Teachers and adults must remain with their group during the entire performance.

2. Once seated in the theater, students may go to the bathroom in small groups and with the teacher's permission. Please chaperone younger students. Once the show is over, please remain seated until the House Manager dismisses your school.

3. Please remind your students that we do not permit:
- food, gum, (we also ask the teachers and Adults not to have gum either, the rule is for everyone.) drinks, smoking, hats, backpacks or large purses (backpacks and lunch bags stay in the lobby along the wall by school, however this is only for the schools that are planning on lunch outside after the program). We do let the teachers have a bottle of water for just in case. But it is limited to adults only. Kid with special needs will be taken care of as needed. This information is always given to us about a week ahead but we can deal with it on the day.
- disruptive talking.
- disorderly and inappropriate behavior (stepping on/over seats, throwing objects, etc.)
- cameras, iPods, cell phones, beepers, tape recorders, hand held video games. (Adults are asked to put any beepers or cell phones on silent or vibrate.) In cases of disorderly behavior, groups may be asked to leave the theater without ticket refunds.

4. Teachers should take time to remind students before attending the show of the following about a live performance: Sometimes we forget when we come into a theatre that we are one of the most important parts of the production. Without an audience there would be no performance. Your contribution of laughter, quiet attention and applause is part of the play.

When we watch movies or television we are watching images on a screen, and what we say or do cannot affect them. In the theatre the actors are real people who are present and creating an experience with us at that very moment. They see and hear us and are sensitive to our response. They know how we feel about the play by how we watch and listen. An invisible bond is formed between actors and a good audience, and it enables the actors to do their best for you. A good audience helps make a good performance.

PCPA welcomes you as a partner in the live theatre experience from the moment you take your seats. We hope that your visit will be a highlight of your school year.

Fiddler on the Roof Cast and Production Team

Director RogerDeLaurier
Musical Director Callum Morris
Choreographer Michael Jenkinson
Scenic Designer DeAnne Kennedy
Costume Designer Frederick P. Deeben
Lighting Designer Jennifer 'Z' Zornow
Sound Designer Elisabeth Rebel
Production Stage Manager Christine Collins*
Stage Manager Heather Patterson
Cast of Characters
Tevye Erik Stein*
Golde Kitty Balay*
Tzeitel Karin Hendricks
Hodel Krysta Smith
Chava Jessica Chanliau
Shprintze Julia Seibert
Bielke Lucy Genge
Yente/Fruma-Sarah Elizabeth Stuart*
Motel Michael Jenkinson*
Shaindel Stephanie Bull
Perchik Quinn Mattfeld*
Lazar Wolf Billy Breed
Mordcha Leo Cortez
Rabbi Peter S. Hadres*
Mendel Cameron Parker
Avram Toby Tropper
Nachum Chris Carter
Yussel Taylor Babcock
Constable Daniel Rubio
Fyedka Tony Kupsick
Sasha / Russian Dancer Steven Jasso
Fiddler Patrick Anderson
Mother/Grandma Tzeitel Britney Simpson
Mothers Katie Wackowski, Rose Blackford,
Kari Cowell
Daughter Amanda Farbstein
Young Daughter Kimii White
Russian George P. Scott
Russian Soloist Lafras le Roux
Son/Yente Boy Cameron Rose
Son Christopher Jensen
Yente Boy Thomas Appel
Bottle Dancers Patrick Anderson, Steven Jasso, Tony Kupsick, Lafras le Roux, George P. Scott
Ensemble Peter S. Hadres*, Steven Jasso, Tony Kupsick, Lafras le Roux, George P. Scott, Elizabeth Stuart*, Thomas Appel, Christopher Jensen, Cameron Rose, Kimi White


The Study Guide is a companion piece designed to explore many ideas depicted in the stage production of Fiddler on the Roof. Although the guide's intent is to enhance the student's theatrical experience, it can also be used as an introduction to the elements of a play (in this case a play with music), and the production elements involved in the play's presentation. Although many students are familiar with the general storyline, this specific stage adaptation presents a wealth of new questions for this generation to answer.

The guide has been organized into three major sections:
Elements of the story
Elements of production

Erik Stein* as Tevye
Teachers and group leaders will want to select portions of the guide for their specific usage. Discussion questions are meant to provoke a line of thought about a particular topic. The answers to the discussion questions in many instances will initiate the process of exploration and discovery of varied interpretations by everyone involved. This can be as rewarding as the wonderful experience of sight and sound that Fiddler on the Roof creates on-stage.

Act I

In the early-twentieth century, the Jewish community in the Russian village of Anatevka is largely concerned with tradition. One of the most important traditions surrounds marriage. It has always been the duty of Yente, the matchmaker, to find the village’s girls husbands that can support them economically and please their families. This is of significance to Tevye, father of five. A lowly milkman, he dreams of being richer and more respected within Anatevka.

Yente informs Tevye’s wife Golde that Lazar, the village’s butcher, is interested in Tzeitel, the oldest of the couple’s five daughters. Aware of Lazar’s wealth and status, Golde is thrilled by the proposition and tells Tevye to meet with Lazar immediately. Tzeitel, however, does not want to marry someone so much older than her; she is also in love with the less-wealthy village tailor, Motel.

Tevye resents Lazar’s attempt to buy his daughter but ultimately, cannot refuse his proposal. The men drink on the agreement, but the celebration is dampened by the constable’s news that the police will be harassing the village’s Jews in the coming weeks as a means of upholding the Tsar’s orders for Russia’s ongoing pogroms.

Upset by the news of her marriage, Tzeitel begs Motel to ask her father for her hand in marriage immediately. Tevye is incredulous that the two have arranged a match for themselves and scoffs at the idea of marrying his daughter to a poor tailor over a wealthy butcher. However, in the interest of making his daughter happy, he ignores convention and gives the couple his consent.

Meanwhile, Perchik, a scholar from Kiev who is spending the Sabbath with Tevye’s family in exchange for tutoring his daughters, becomes interested in Hodel, the family’s second-oldest daughter. Chava, the next oldest daughter, breaks Jewish custom by speaking in public with Fyedka, a non-Jewish boy who takes an interest in her for her passion for reading. At Tzeitel’s and Motel’s wedding, Perchik breaks another custom by encouraging unmarried guests to dance together. However, the celebration proves short lived when the police show up to vandalize the Jewish wedding, as ordered.

(left to right)
Quinn Mattfeld* as Perchik,
Kitty Balay* as Golde,
Erik Stein* as Tevye,
Krysta Smith as Hodel

Quinn Mattfeld* as Perchik
& Krysta Smith as Hodel

Erik Stein* as Tevye
& Kitty Balay* as Golde

Act II

Before returning to Kiev to resume his duties in the Bolshevik revolution, Perchik proposes to Hodel. The two agree that marriage should be based on affection and mutual beliefs—not on tradition or convenience—and she accepts. Tevye objects to the marriage because of Perchik’s leaving and becomes furious when he learns that the couple is not asking for his permission but merely his blessing. But like with Tzeitel, he eventually accepts the marriage as important to his daughter’s happiness, acknowledging love as a kind of “new style.”

Yente reports that, after returning to Kiev, Perchik has been arrested. Hodel goes to see him in Siberia, where he has been sent. Yente also claims to have seen Chava and Fyedka together more than once.

Chava and Fyedka eventually decide to wed. Despite having allowed his two older daughters to veer from Jewish marriage traditions, Tevye refuses to allow Chava to marry outside of her faith. He is livid she would even ask and orders her never to see Fyedka again. The next morning, he learns that the couple has wed and run off together. He immediately dismembers Chava from the family. To worsen matters, the constable alerts Tevye that, as ordered of the Tsar, all Jews must vacate the region in three days’ time, before they are forced out.

Tevye and his family prepare a move to America. Tzeitel and Motel plan on moving to Warsaw with their newborn child to save money before joining the rest of the family in America. As members of Anatevka’s Jewish community say goodbye to each other, Chava returns with Fyedka to say goodbye. Tevye does not acknowledge her but tells Tzeitel to tell her, “God be with you!” As Tevye’s family leaves Anatevka, a fiddler plays and follows them off the stage.

Notes About The Play – Fiddler on the Roof

For director Roger DeLaurier, this 2013 production of Fiddler on the Roof is an opportunity to revel in one of the beloved classics of musical theatre. And, it is one of the great successes of PCPA’s own production history. The “dairy cart” of Tevye the Milkman has appeared in every production of the play since the 1970s.

DeLaurier has also been excited by the opportunity to rediscover the works of Sholem Aleichem of the author of the source short stories for this musical. Both Aleichem’s reputation and the experience of his work have provided the design team and director with a joyous and imaginative backdrop for their work. And that has led the team to see how essential “Chagall’s inspirational title” is to the production. This is truly a work which asks how we find the balance between change and tradition, between our aspirations for our children and their ambitions for themselves. It is also reminder of our continuing struggle to find that precarious middle ground between our cultural values and our contemporary communities in change.

As DeLaurier observes, this work is a popular work because it appeals to our core values and our essential questions. It allows one to be in dialogue with the Divine about those questions and about one’s faith. And it addresses the collision of generational expectations and exasperations. It is an apt play for us in 2013 because it is an expression of a younger generation delivering the reality of change (be it through technology or through ideology) to an older generation that attempts to maintain the norms and "knowns," while allowing for some measure of adaptability.

Director, Roger DeLaurier

About the Playwright, Joseph Stein

An inductee in the Theatre Hall of Fame, Joseph Stein was an American playwright born to two Jewish parents in New York City. He passed away at 98 years of age. He was educated in the field of social work and worked as a psychiatric social worker. He wrote comedies on the side. This writing later led to him writing for radio personalities, and then eventually he wrote for television. Writing Fiddler on the Roof is noted as his greatest success, as he won three major awards for the musical. He also has written such works as Plain and Fancy, Take Me Along, Zorba and Rags.

About the music and lyrics of Fiddler on the Roof

Sheldon Harnick (left) and Jerry Bock
The music in Fiddler on the Roof was written by composer Jerry Bock and lyricist Sheldon Harnick.

To this day, the pair is remembered as one of the premier musical-theatre composition duos of the 1950s and 1960s.

Bock was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1928, and became engaged with music at an early age. He played piano as a child and went on to score musicals for his high school and college. After graduating, like Joseph Stein, Bock worked for the T.V. show Your Show of Shows, writing songs for stars Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca to perform. Following his stint in television, he scored Broadway productions Catch a Star, The Ziegfield Follies, and Mr. Wonderful and wrote music for Sarah Vaughan.

Born in Chicago, Harnick began playing violin at a young age and started writing his own music in high school. After serving in the Army, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in music. At this point, he shifted his focus to writing lyrics and moved to New York City in an attempt to pursue a career on Broadway.

When Bock and Harnick met in the mid 1950s, Broadway’s next big songwriting tandem was born. In 1958, they scored their first musical The Body Beautiful, written by Joseph Stein, with whom they would later work on Fiddler on the Roof. The duo then wrote the music for Tony- and Pulitzer-winning Fiorello! (1959), a musical about former New York mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia. After scoring Fiddler in 1959, the duo also wrote the music for Tenderloin (1960), She Loves Me (1963), The Appletree (1966), and Rothchilds (1970).

The colossal box-office success of Fiddler on the Roof’s inaugural production speaks both to the pair’s popularity and to their collaborative style. It shows Bock’s knack for traditional Jewish melody and musical arrangements at work with Harnick’s witty, conversational, and often humorous lyrics.


Tevye Narrator of the play and father to five young women, Tevye struggles to maintain his traditional Jewish values. He is married to Golde and works as a milkman. His daughters are Tzeitel, Hodel, Chava, Shprintze, and Bielke.

Golde Tevye’s wife, Golde, is the one who keeps the household running. She hopes her daughters have good lives and marry well.

Yente Yente is the matchmaker of the town and often knows the news of the town.

Lazar Wolf As the wealthiest citizen in town, he would like to marry Tevye’s daughter, even though he is the same age or older than Tevye.

Tzeitel Tzeitel is the eldest daughter of Tevye and Golde. She is the first to challenge the traditional marriage customs and resists Lazar Wolf’s attempts to marry her. Her true love is Motel.

Motel Motel is a poor tailor who intends to marry Tzeitel.

Hodel Hodel is the second eldest daughter of Golde and Tevye. She falls in love with Perchik, a student who is not from Anatevka.

Perchik An outsider to the community, Perchik is a student, and brings with him radical ideas that challenge tradition. He is in love with Hodel.

Chava The third eldest daughter of Golde and Tevye, she runs off to marry Fyedka.

Fyedka Fyedka is a Russian soldier who falls in love with Chava.

Shprintze and Bielke The two youngest daughters of Golde and Tevye.

The Constable A Russian military official stationed near Anatevka.

Rabbi A Rabbi is Anatevka’s Jewish spiritual leader.

Mendel Mendel is the Rabbi’s son.

Mordcha Mordcha is the innkeeper who runs the bar in town.

Avram Avram is the bookseller in town.

Grandma Tzeitel Grandma appears as a ghost during a dream sequence.

Fruma- Sarah Fruma‐ Sarah is Lazar’s Wolf’s departed wife. She appears as a ghost in Tevye’s dream and is angry that Lazar Wolf wants to marry Tzeitel.

Nachum The town beggar.

Yussel The town hatter.

Shaindel The mother of Motel.

Sasha Fyedka’s Russian friend and soldier.

Priest A Christian spiritual leader.

About The Production

Time and Place Russia 1905 Fiddler on the Roof is set in 1905 in the fictional Russian village of Anatevka. As Tevye responds to the constable when told all Jews must evacuate the village, “This corner of the world has always been our home” (act 2, scene 7). He is likely referring to the area that was known as The Pale of Settlement during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This area, comprising the then Russian Empire’s western regions, was the only part of the country Jews were allowed to inhabit. However, as evidenced by the play, many had left the area by 1914 due to pogroms and a generally anti-Semitic rule.

The most notable event occurring in Russia at this time was the Revolution of 1905, a social uprising led largely by middle-class industrial workers and labor unions. The revolution was initiated by Bloody Sunday, which occurred on January 22, 1905, when approximately 100 Russian demonstrators were shot by police in St. Petersburg. Over the course of the next year, thousands more revolutionaries were killed. Although the revolution was ultimately defeated and Tsar Nicholas II retained power, the Revolution of 1905 did bring about The October Manifesto, which guaranteed freedom of choice, the press, religion, and association. Clearly, this context bears pertinence to the Jewish community described in the play. Also, Perchik, Hodel’s husband, is an academic and revolutionary. His eventual arrest for dancing at the wedding and having “strange ideas” (act two, scene two) speaks to the lack of social freedoms in Russia at the time.
Erik Stein* as Tevye
& Krysta Smith as Hodel

Jewish Customs

Fiddler on the Roof portrays the importance of tradition in the Jewish faith. As Tevye explains in the song “Tradition,” “Because of our traditions, everyone knows what God expects him to do” (Act1 scene1). These are some of the Jewish customs that appear in the play.

Matchmaking: In Anatevka, it is customary for Yente, the matchmaker, to pair the village’s singles for marriage. In most orthodox Jewish communities, singles are often matched up through family or friends in a system called shidduch. Traditionally, the purpose of dating is only so the couple can get to know each other before marrying. Also, as the play makes clear, the father is supposed to play the role of final arbiter in marriage arrangements. Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava all veer from the custom of shidduch in the play by finding their own husbands based on their feelings and mutual interests.

Shabbat: Shabbat (English: the Sabbath) is the day of rest in Judaism. A celebration of creation, it spans from Friday night to Saturday night and includes traditional meals. Tevye’s family adheres to many of the customs linked to the Sabbath when they invite Perchik to spend it with them, such as how Golde lights the candles. Dancing at Weddings: In orthodox Jewish communities, men and women dance separately at weddings. Although this is clearly supposed to be standard at weddings in Anatevka, Perchik encourages everyone at Tzeitel’s and Motel’s wedding to veer from this custom.

Clothing: In the song “Tradition,” Tevye explains how members of the Jewish community in Anatevka “always keep [their] heads covered and always wear a little prayer shawl. This shows [their] constant devotion to God” (Act1 scene1). According to Jewish tradition, keeping one’s head covered represents his being less than the God above.

Interfaith Marriage: Chava’s decision to marry outside of the Jewish faith is the most sensitive tradition broken in the play. Although Tevye accepts the manners in which Tzeitel and Hodel stray from Jewish marriage customs, he refuses to support his daughter’s interfaith romance. This reflects Anatevka’s identity as a particularly orthodox Jewish community as well as its timeframe. Reformed Judaism supports interpretations of the Bible and Jewish Law that allow marrying outside of the faith, though to this day, the issue remains a point of debate within the Jewish community.

Notes about Jewish Dance: Dance has traditionally been an important aspect to Jews. It is used as a strong form of expression for joy and other communal emotions. Dance plays an important role in religious ceremonies, weddings, and everyday life. At weddings, the dancers usually perform in front of the couple that is getting married. In Hasidic style dance, it was frowned upon for men and women to dance in the same circles, so they were separated into two different circles. Dancing to Klezmer music was an integral part of weddings in the shtetl. Traditionally danced at Jewish weddings, the Horah is a circle dance that is usually performed to Hava Nagila. It is usually done in the second dance set. Temani is a form of dance based on hopping in one place. It is usually seen at public dancing at Israeli weddings. The Krenzl is a dance performed at a wedding where the mother of the bride has flowers placed on her head and her daughters dance around her. This dance is usually performed when it is the mother’s last daughter to wed.

Notes about Jewish Weddings: While Jewish weddings can certainly vary, most have the following common attributes: a ketubah (a marriage contract), a wedding canopy, a ring owned by the groom that is given to the bride, and the breaking of glass. There are two major parts of a Jewish wedding. Today they are often performed together, but historically they could have been up to a year apart.

According to Wikipedia, The Sheva Brachot or seven blessings are recited by the hazzan or rabbi, or by select guests who are called up individually. Being called upon to recite one of the seven blessings is considered an honor. The groom is given the cup of wine to drink from after the seven blessings. The bride also drinks the wine. In some traditions, the cup will be held to the lips of the groom by his new father‐in‐law and to the lips of the bride by her new mother‐in‐law. Traditions vary as to whether additional songs are sung before the seven blessings.
Erik Stein* as Tevye
& Krysta Smith as Hodel

Key Terms

The Sabbath refers to the Jewish day of rest on the seventh day of the week. There are traditionally three feasts on this day. The focus is on family and taking a day off from the everyday labors of life.

At one point in the play, the constable warns of an “unofficial demonstration” in the coming weeks. This refers to a pogrom, which is a violent attack against Jews. It is often condoned by the law.

The fiddler on the roof serves as a metaphor, demonstrating the strength of tradition. Because the fiddler is often unbalanced and can easily fall, so too can the traditional practices, culture and faith. Shtetl is a Yiddish word meaning “small village.”

Anatevka, the small fictional village referred to in the story, is based on an actual village in the Ukraine. Yente is cleverly the name of one of the characters in the play. Appropriately, it means busybody. L’chaim is Hebrew for “to life.”

Mazel Tov means congratulations or good luck.

Tsar The head of power in Russia. Tsarism was considered autocratic (when one person has all of a state’s power)

Erik Stein* as Tevye
& Kitty Balay* as Golde
*Member, Actors' Equity Association

Learning outcomes

As one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time, Fiddler on the Roof carries educational value for theatre, drama, and music classes. It demonstrates performance art in a manner from which actors, singers, and writers can draw insight. Seeing Fiddler’s performance is also essential in familiarizing students with its musical-theatre and pop-culture contexts. Many of its musical numbers, such as “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Tradition,” are must-knows for aspiring Broadway performers.

Fiddler is also rich in educational value for social studies, history, and religious studies classes. The social, political, and religious unrest of early twentieth-century Russia is well accounted for. Set in 1905 in Tsarist Russia, Fiddler depicts the struggle of Jewish communities facing Russia’s ongoing pogroms and its mainstream anti-Semitism in general. Perchik, one of the central characters, is an activist for what became known as the Revolution of 1905. The causes of this liberal-led revolution demonstrated in the play include poor labor conditions (as seen through Tevye’s long days, hard work, and lack of economic reward) and the Russian Empire’s lack of religious freedom.

Finally, the play asks many moral questions that challenge students’ critical thinking skills.
How important are traditions in our society?
Do traditions exist today to the same extent they do in the play?
How important are faith and allegiance to social identity?
Should bringing pride to your family take priority over pursuing your own happiness?
An English student’s ability to answer these questions and to defend their convictions—both orally and in writing—is essential to their mental development.

Before the Show

Most students can enjoy Fiddler on the Roof without any preparation. However, discussing certain topics can offer them a deeper understanding of its plot and content. It is beneficial to social studies and history classes to review the historical and political context of early twentieth-century Russia. Understanding the period’s history of social uprisings and political unrest, as well as the corruption and harsh socioeconomic conditions underlying them, offers students a more thorough grasp on the play’s setting, plot, and characterization. Understanding the role of a Tsar and Russian Tsarism in general is also relevant knowledge.

Religious study classes will want to explore the question of anti-Semitism in the play. How do the pogroms of early twentieth-century Russia resemble or differ from other anti-Semitic historical events?

They may also want to explore the idea behind Tevye’s disowning his daughter Chava for marrying outside of the Jewish faith.

While this play does not contain any graphics scenes, we stress that anti-Semitism is part of its plot.

What do you already know?

As musical theatre, Fiddler on the Roof offers a fun way of learning about Jewish culture and early nineteenth century European history. However, it can be helpful to go over what you already know about a topic before you begin learning about it.

Using the words below as guides, write down what you know about the Fiddler-related subjects below. It can be something you know about them, words you associate with them, or what the subject means to you. You can also find words or thoughts that connect two or more of the words.

For this exercise, you may end up repeating some of what you wrote in the Before and After activity on page


European History




Your Traditions

Tevye’s family and community are very concerned with tradition. Listen to the song “Tradition” with your class and have the students write their own lyrics or paragraph about traditions that matter in their family, community, or school.

Activity Character Sketch

Write a full character sketch for any of the characters in the play. What kind of character is he/she (static, round, etc.)?

What traits do they carry? What actions define them?

This exercise should be done on separate paper.

My favorite scene

Pick out your favorite scene from Fiddler on the Roof and draw it on a separate paper. Underneath, write a sentence describing what is happening and why this is your favorite scene.

Was this Study Guide Helpful?

It is useful for us to know what was helpful to you as you read and/or used this guide.

Please fill out and mail or e-mail this quick response sheet to us. We appreciate your ideas.

1. Was it easy for you to find and download the Guide?

2. Did you spend more time working with the material BEFORE or AFTER the play?
Equally Before and After

3. Did using this Study Guide add to your theater experience?

4. What did you use from the Guide?

5. How did the experience of preparing for and then seeing the play impact your students?

6. Is there something you would like to see included in the Guide that wasn’t here?

7. How much of the Guide did you read?
Didn’t have time

8. Which of the following best describes you?
I teach:
middle school
high school
elementary school
home school
other _ _

Comments: _

Mail to:
PCPA Theaterfest / Outreach and Education
800 S. College Dr.
Santa Maria CA 93454
Attention: Director, Education and Outreach.
OR email: