Awake And Sing

The New Yiddish Rep’s current production of Awake and Sing, Clifford Odets’ 1935 American masterpiece, is a 21st century miracle. It validates Artistic Director David Mandelbaum’s mishegas/obsession of establishing a Yiddish acting company performing modern plays, either written or translated into Yiddish, that attract diverse appreciative audiences of many ages, which describes the ticket holders at the performance I attended. – Theater Pizzazz

Clifford Odets

Clifford Odets began his career in 1931 as an actor with The Group Theater, a New York company of which he was a founding member. He shortly turned to writing and his first play for the Group, Waiting for Lefty (1935), immediately launched him as the most celebrated American playwright of the 1930s. Lefty, as well as four other major Broadway productions in that decade, introduced theater audiences to subject matter and language that had never before been heard on the American stage. This work deeply influenced generations of American playwrights to follow. Odets’ other best-known plays are Golden Boy, The Country Girl, The Flowering Peach, The Big Knife, Rocket to the Moon, Paradise Lost and Clash by Night. Screenplay credits include Sweet Smell of Success, Humoresque, The General Died at Dawn, None but the Lonely Heart and The Story on Page One. Directing credits include both None but the Lonely Heart and The Story on Page One.

The Whore From Ohio

Hanocj Levin’s

Hanoch Levin is Israels greatest playwright to date. A post-modernist often called the  Israeli Beckett,” he remained a controversial figue until his untimely death at the age of 56 in 1999. The government often attempted to shut down his overtly political plays, but never succeeded in gagging him or diminishing the Israeli public’s affection for him.
 
“Di Zoyne Fun Ohio” is a play about the relative spiritual value of longing versus reality. “If I forget thee O Jerusalem may I forget my right hand.” For many centuries the Jewish people have harbored an intensely spiritual longing for Eretz Yisrael, and the coming of Meshiekh. In this play Levin poses the question: were we better off with the longing than with the reality?
 
A thought provoking black farce for those who don’t mind a bit of vulgar fun, tragic observations about human  and family relations, and spiritual seeking.

Coming Up

 

Arielle Beth Klein

This delightful show is particularly relevant when so many young Jews are seeking an identity outside the establishment norms that they can/t relate to. A delightful, thought provoking show, beautifully delivered by a refreshingly engaging young talent.

 

 

 

AGENTN

New Yiddish Rep and Der LufTeaterof Strasbourg France presented New York’s only Yiddish theatrical presentation of the 2011 fall season, a new play adapted from Sholom Aleichem’s one act Agentn, which takes place on a train, and his Ayzenbahn Geshichtes, stories centered around train travel. The piece was workshopped in New York last October, and presented in a series of staged readings in November. Adapted by Rafael Goldwaser, the plays final form was shaped by the collaboration of the ensemble and the rehearsal process itself.
‘Agentn’ of Yesterday and Today
By Boris Sandler
Editor of The Yiddish ForwardTo perform Yiddish theater today, you need a lot of money, or a lot of ambition. The New Yiddish Rep theater company, led by David Mandelbaum, has the latter.Mandelbaum is an actor and director who also plays most of the other roles a theater company requires. Like any typical theater person, he is always on the lookout for creative talent, and when he searches, he usually finds. For “Agentn,” the New Yiddish Rep’s latest production, Mandelbaum found five talented collaborators: director Moshe Yassur, clarinetist Dmitri Slepovitch and actors Yelena Shmulenson, Rafael Goldwaser and Shane Baker.The play is based on the works of Sholem Aleichem, which makes for good theater, even though Sholem Aleichem himself was not a particularly impressive dramatist. The different parts of the play, which draw on several of Sholem Aleichem’s stories, are unified by a small-town fortune-seeker who travels by train through different stations, trying to find “clients” and make a ruble.Goldwaser contributes several monologues he has already performed in his own productions, which are brought within the larger narrative of the play. This unifying task fell to Yassur, whose challenge was to make the piece more than just a series of readings, even though the actors have their scripts onstage. Yasur managed this by means of the mise-en-scène, props, jokes, contact with the audience and, most of all, music.Music, however, is perhaps the wrong word for it. Rather, Yassur uses a technique in which the clarinet, played by Slepovitch, participates as its own character in the drama. It inserts itself into the dialogue, sometimes in discontent, sometimes in pity, sometimes in reproach. It is even possible that the clarinet serves as a sort of internal voice, saying that not everything a person says is always what he’s thinking.

Still, putting Sholem Aleichem on stage is no simple matter. There is especially the danger of falling into tastelessness and theater clichés. Fortunately, with “Agentn,” that doesn’t happen.

In earlier years you used to meet people who were attached heart and soul to Yiddish culture. They would do anything in order to help talented writers, musicians, directors, theater troupes, and other creative people realize their projects. The question remains, has this type of bold person disappeared from the Yiddish horizon?

— Translated by Ezra Glinter

Rhinoceros (Nozhorn)

Oh! A Nozhorn!

‘The other day Trump used the phrase “my followers.”
That says it all. Every theater in the country that cares about freedom, human rights, and our way of life ought to produce this play. Hitler came to power in 1933 with only 36% of the vote. By 1939 he brought on a World War. Lets hope we don’t start seeing rhinoceroses in the streets. The folks in Charlottesville already have.