Theater Legend David Rothenberg Does Some of His Best Work Offstage
The Jewish Designer Who Taught Marc Chagall
Playing Hunger Games on the West Bank
Heading Into the 'I' of the Knaidel
Is It Last Dance for Kaveret, the 'Israeli ABBA'?
Recalling the Jews, Radicals and Rogues Who Created Greenwich Village
10 Reasons Superman Is Really Jewish
Defining Franz Kafka Proves a Kafkaesque Dilemma
Poor Heiress Pens Unorthodox Orthodox Memoir
David Nirenberg Traces The Long, Bewildering History of Anti-Semitism
So What Makes a Jewish Joke Jewish?
True History of an Unknown Hero of the French Jewish Resistance
Viewing Franz Kafka Through Lens of his Sexuality
It's a Hebrew Thing — You Get It or You Don't
The Enduring Jewish Traditions of Philanthropy and Collecting
British Comedy Legend Jonathan Lynn Brings Unique Style to Los Angeles
Gesher Theatre Explores Challenges of Dramatizing I.B. Singer's 'Enemies'
Belgium Museum Will Tell Story of Red Star Line That Carried Jews to America
Holocaust Museum, Turning 20 Years Old, Confronts 21st Century Challenges
Violence Meets Solitude at Jewish Museum's Jack Goldstein Exhibit
World War II's Unsung Heroes Get Their Due at Spruced Up Lyon Museum
How Greek Philosophy Influenced Both Christian and Jewish Theology
How a T-Shirt Made Its Way to an Exhibit About Los Angeles Jews
Gary Greenberg Psychoanalyzes Psychoanalysis
Edgar Feuchtwanger Recalls Living Across The Street From Adolf Hitler
Israel Philharmonic Makes Spectacular Debut in Its New Home
Radio Kvetcher Jonathan Goldstein Is Still Learning How To Grow Up
The 12 New (Jewish) Books For Summer
Interpreting the Holocaust Dreams of Literary Puzzle Master Georges Perec
Debut Novelist Helene Wecker Dreams of Jinnis (and Golems)
All Jewish on the Western Front
Discovering Louisa May Alcott's Jewish History on Portuguese Tour
Growing Up Jewish in Christian Suburbia
Hannah Arendt Biopic Offers Rare Onscreen View of Political Philosophy
A Very Yiddish Take on the Star Spangled Banner
Tel Aviv Exhibit About Hospitality Arrives With Some Political Baggage
Coney Island Impresario Richard Zigun Plans Comeback After Hurricane Sandy
Crusading Photographer Seeks To Save Israeli Mom-and-Pop Shops for Posterity
'Fill The Void' Offers Rare Glimpse Inside Hasidic Life
Judith Malina Joins Jewish Show Business Stars in Next Stage of Life
Could The Holy Ghost Be Jewish?
Who Was Afraid of Viviane Forrester?
The Return of Richard Foreman, Rabbi of New York's Downtown Theater Scene
The Hank Greenberg Story That '42' Forgot
With his film “My Trip To Al-Qaeda” on HBO in September and his one-man show, “The Human Scale,” about to open in New York City, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and The New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright has a lot going on. During a short window between memorizing his lines and beginning rehearsals, he found time to answer a few questions about “The Human Scale,” which is based on his experiences in Israel and the Gaza Strip last year. Directed by Oskar Eustis of the Public Theater, the play opens on October 2 at The New Yorker Festival and will continue its run at 3LD Arts and Technology Center until October 31.
Zohar Tirosh-Polk: How did this play come about?
Lawrence Wright: I had a done a one-man play before, “My Trip to Al Qaeda.” That was anomalous to start with, and I thought I would never do that again. Then I went to Gaza for The New Yorker in July 2009, and when I came back Karen Greenberg at the Center on Law and Security asked me to give a speech about Gaza. The more I thought about it, I realized it was very familiar to the people of that region, but here people are so unacquainted with it. I thought maybe I would try another one-man presentation, so we assembled all this video and we did a reading last December at the 3-Legged Dog theater, and it was during that time that Oskar Eustis at the Public got interested.
Genocide is a difficult topic, and the Armenian Genocide doubly so. Unfortunately, Eric Friedler’s “Aghet: Ein Völkermord,” a German documentary screened in August at the Montreal World Film Festival and last week at the ARPA International Film Festival in Los Angeles, takes a straightforward approach to its subject, and therefore falls short of its own ambitions.
“Aghet” tells the story of the Armenian Genocide from inception to near-completion. It does so, in large part, using German archival documents. Because of their military alliance with the Ottoman Empire, German officials had an extensive knowledge (and equally extensive records) of what happened to the Armenians from 1915 to 1917.
To present this material, 23 different actors stand in as witnesses, reciting passages from memoirs and communiqués. From the rise of the Young Turks to the death marches in the Syrian desert, their words provide a compelling narrative of the Genocide. While the method is moving, the measure of a great documentary is not merely its emotional impact, but also its intellectual heft — and judged by that standard, “Aghet” falls short.
Edmund de Waal, a British artist and the son of a clergyman of the Church of England, knew he was missing a vital part of himself, but he wasn’t sure what it was. A middle-aged married father of three, he had spent his adult life ensconced in his London studio, where he made thousands of porcelain pots in various shades of white, some of them lidded and others not, many of them marred by imperfections of one sort or another. His work was melancholy, and emanated an energy both compelling and disturbing. Perhaps de Waal was simply trying to make sense of an ancient tragedy that was part of his heritage. Regardless, a better understanding of himself was part of his mission.
In his recent memoir, “The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss,” de Waal describes his decision to explore his family’s history, prompted by an unusual inheritance he received from his great Uncle Iggie: Two hundred and sixty four netsuke carvings, miniature Japanese sculptures made of ivory, wood and bone.
With the academic year underway, it is timely to pay tribute to CDs from teachers, whose artistry often outweighs that of more publicized career virtuosi. Queens-born Harriet Wingreen, longtime professor at the Manhattan School of Music and orchestral pianist with the New York Philharmonic, comes from a Lithuanian Jewish family whose name was changed from Vengeren by an Ellis Island official. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has just released on CD an early 1960s recording of Wingreen’s lively, elegant performance of two Mendelssohn sonatas for cello and piano, accompanying the then-youthfully vigorous cellist David Soyer.
An older teacher, Hungarian Jewish violinist and composer Jeno Hubay, whose many students included the eminent Joseph Szigeti, is enjoying a belated moment in the sun with a CD of viola compositions from Hungaroton Classic. Hubay was born Eugen Huber in Pest to a German Jewish family in 1897. Joyously idiomatic and highly expressive of a jaunty personality, like his violin works, also available from Hungaroton, Hubay’s viola pieces are enchanting. Even more venerable, the 1838 “Méthode des méthodes” (Ultimate Method) of didactic piano works by a dozen Romantic composers, many of them Jewish, has just been magisterially recorded with relaxed adroitness by the Israeli-American pianist Mordecai Shehori on his own label, Cembal d’amour.
On the Yiddish Song of the Week blog, Forverts associate editor Itzik Gottesman writes about “An Ayznban a Naye,” or “A New Railroad Train,” based on a song by the renowned poet and songwriter Eliakum Zunser. Gottesman writes:
“An ayznban” was sung by David Shear of New York City and recorded by me in his apartment in 1989. Shear was born in Luboml (Libivne in Yiddish), Poland. He studied in Ostrovitz, near Keltz in a Navaradok Yeshiva in the 1930s. This was a mussar yeshiva and if you are not familiar with that term, I recommend you read Chaim Grade’s novel “The Yeshiva” as well as other works by him. This kind of yeshiva emphasized ethics in an extreme way. That the yeshiva students there would sing “An ayznban,” which is an adaptation of Elyokum Zunser’s (1836-1913) song “Lid fun ayznban” (not to be confused with his song/poem “Der ayznban”) is not that surprising, since Zunser’s poetry often mixed parable and Jewish ethics.
Read the whole post and listen to the song here.
“Roy Lichtenstein: The Black-and-White Drawings, 1961-1968” opens and closes, quite fittingly, with doors. “Knock Knock,” a 1961 drawing, greets visitors entering the single-room exhibition. The title words splay from an all-white door, its shape defined by heavy, even black lines. Short marks indicate the thwap of invisible knuckles. Later, after circling the perimeter, you step into a nook. Inside stands a real, three-dimensional door, the only remnant of Lichtenstein’s full-room installation at the 1967 Aspen Festival of Contemporary Art. Like the drawing, the door is white outlined in black, and a hand has struck, this time leaving a more phonetic NOK!! NOK!!
The pieces are remarkably similar. Indeed, the entire exhibition focuses on Lichtenstein’s most familiar style. The 55 drawings — on display as a group for the first time — borrow images from commercial illustration, advertisements and comic books. Many feature Lichtenstein’s iconic Benday dots. Though narrow in scope, the exhibition, at the Morgan Library through January 2, 2011, reveals the impact of small adjustments. The drawings, stripped of stylistic variation and color, train your eye on the development of Lichtenstein’s technique.
Earlier this week, Martin Fletcher wrote about stories he’s covered for NBC’s London bureau and about choosing a title for his book. His newest book, “Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul of a Nation,” is now available. His blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog series. For more information on the series, please visit:
What I loved about writing “Walking Israel” was meeting the people I came across during my walk, people I would never normally have come across, and who directed me towards aspects of Israel that had never occurred to me in my 35 years of reporting from there: The tour guide who used the four faces of Akko’s clocktower to show Jews and Arabs the four faces of the truth: “it just depends where you stand”; the botanist whose main goal, when Israel was fighting for its existence in 1948, was to save the sea turtles; the Tunisian and Moroccan Jews sitting around in Roger’s café in Ashkelon who barely budged as rockets landed from Gaza, and said if it was up to them they’d make peace with the Arabs in five minutes but in the meantime “in war, it’s war!”
Crossposted from Haaretz
The documentary “Shout,” screened at the Haifa International Film Festival, outlines the dilemmas facing young Druze from the Golan Heights who leave to study in Damascus and cannot return.
Minarets slice the skyline and gray residential buildings stand among them. Uniformed police pass through the streets scrutinizing passersby. Two young men in fashionable sunglasses and striped shirts walk through a crowded and colorful Middle Eastern market, surveying the surroundings with interest. Later, in the dark, the two sit in the back seat of a taxi: “God, look how beautiful Damascus is,” says one of them.
“Yeah, Damascus really is beautiful,” agrees his companion.
Occasionally, the legend surrounding a work of art takes on a life of its own: I can’t hear Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” for instance, without imagining the riot that it caused at its Paris premiere (a scene that’s all the more scandalous given the oppressively tomb-like atmosphere of most classical music concerts, which makes even sneezing out of turn a horrifying, shameful prospect).
The story of “The Cradle Will Rock,” which kicked off New York’s Howl! Arts Project earlier this month at Theatre 80, and returns for two final performances tonight and tomorrow night, gives Stravinsky’s riot a run for its money.
Yesterday, Martin Fletcher wrote about stories he’s covered for NBC’s London bureau. Martin Fletcher’s newest book, “Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul of a Nation,” is now available. His blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog series. For more information on the series, please visit:
I’m lousy at titles; I may spend more time thinking about what to call a book than planning its content. But what I’ve discovered is it doesn’t matter much what I think because the publisher decides anyway.
The title I decided on, after much anguish, for my first book about my reporting career was “The Exploding Cow and the River of Death,” which related to two of the stories in the book. That kind of black humor is a tradition for journalist memoirs. My favorite such title is Edward Behr’s 1985 book “Anyone Here Been Raped and Speaks English?” It refers to a journalist in the Congo who came across a group of Belgian nuns who had been raped and shouted the question.
Daniel F. Levin is a playwright, composer and lyricist living in Brooklyn. His newest play, “Hee-Haw: It’s a Wonderful Li_e,” was called a “delightful surprise” by the New York Times; his musical, “To Paint the Earth,” about resistance fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto, won the Richard Rogers Development Award. This is the third in a series of four posts about his summer directing “Fiddler on the Roof,” crossposted from Frontier Psychiatrist. Read the first and second posts here and here.
I had some all-star girls, too. There was Cynthia, the brave young actor playing Perchik, the male revolutionary. Wearing spectacles, a paper-boy cap, my pin-striped shirt, knickers, and carrying a book, she didn’t look as ridiculous as it may sound. In one speech, she spoke of a nearby pogrom in Rajanka. “Cynthia,” I said. “I think Perchik gets a little fired up when he talks about these nearby pogroms. I think he might show it in his body — maybe he balls his hand up into a fist,” and I demonstrated. From then on, Cynthia stormed around with her right hand in a fist for most of her scenes. Most impressively, when it was her time to propose to Hodel, she never once shied away from the courtship. She accepted that she was playing a boy, who was head over heels for Hodel. When she showed Hodel the dance that was being done in Kiev, the two galloped around the stage (I had given up on fancy choreography) to a Russian Mazurka and looked like they were having a blast.
It doesn’t take long to work out that Woody Allen’s latest film, “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” is about the merits and limits of delusion. The film is structured like a high school term paper, à la: this will be a film about deluded people; here are some deluded people; this has been a film about deluded people. To make it even simpler, a kindly narrator (Zak Orth) introduces each character in a succinct, “Okay, lets begin with Helena” fashion, and then said characters proceed to articulate every key idea in the film: life’s a disaster; of course we delude ourselves; stop thinking that one delusion is better than the next. Some particularly pithy lines — “The illusions work better than the medicine” — even come around twice for those who were distracted by the butter content of their popcorn the first time around.
Helena — played with teary, tipsy determination by Gemma Jones — is the glowing orb at the center of all the folly. To help herself get through her divorce, Helena tries psychology, psychiatry and weekly massages before settling on Cristal (Pauline Collins), a clairvoyant whose supernatural paraphernalia consists of a deck of playing cards and a bottle of scotch. Cristal invariably posits imminent influxes of positive energy, and Helena delights in sharing her new-found omniscience with her daughter, Sally (Naomi Watts).
Martin Fletcher’s newest book, “Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul of a Nation,” will be available tomorrow. His blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog series. For more information on the series, please visit:
But I didn’t expect this. Here are a few of the stories I’ve reported on as a freelancer in NBC’s London bureau in the last few weeks: a shark attack in Australia, an internet blogger accused of rape in Sweden, a British woman who dumped a cat in the garbage bin, another British woman who urinated on a war memorial, a spy’s sexy photo shoot in Russia. The high point, literally, was going up in a hot air balloon with a glass floor which crashed on landing and came within three yards of being dragged into a river. All network stories.
When I arrived at the East London Sukkah this blustery Saturday, the afternoon’s schedule of programs was running behind to accommodate a late entry: “A Guide to Squatting” by the North East London Squatters Network.
It was an appropriate event for the festival of Sukkot, which asks us to recall our nomadic history and move our lives into transitory homes. It was even more appropriate for a sukkah built by a partnership led by Jewdas, an organization that bills itself as “radical voices for the alternative diaspora,” and whose website describes the traditional structure as “a home for 7 days, where you eat, sleep, party…”
“…and make love,” intoned Heather Ring wryly, finishing a quote that for some reason lingers in people’s minds when they read the website. Ring, landscape architect and founder of the Wayward Plant Registry, was project leader and one of three designers of the sukkah.
Crossposted from Haaretz
“I didn’t have a bad childhood, but I was pretty lonely. I spent a lot of time alone in my room, listening to music and dreaming my little dream of making music, and appearing in concerts.” This is how Tzvika Lorber, known as Tzvika Force on stage, describes his start as an artist.
Force, 24, was born into a religious family in Be’er Sheva. He re-worked his feelings as an outsider into his musical compositions. He resists flattering self-descriptions claiming he overcame adversity, and emphasizes that his childhood had no tragic dynamic, such as religious parents opposing the artistic inclinations of their secular boy.
His family supports him, Force emphasizes; they attend his concerts. Nonetheless, the alienation of a young teenager who had artistic yearnings unknown to other members of his family constitutes the creative foundation of his music today.
How a machinist named Martin Cohen became the pre-eminent photographer of New York’s Latin music scene.
Montreal’s Schwartz’s Hebrew Delicatessen is set to be turned into a musical.
Is it time to update the Hebrew alphabet for the Internet age?
Read an interview with Allen Ginsberg collaborator and “Howl!” illustrator Eric Drooker.
The trailer for “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer” is now out.
It’s Sukkos! And though the Sukkah City architecture contest may no longer be on display in Union Square, we’ve got plenty of coverage for your vicarious enjoyment. Maia Efrem walks us through the finalists; Nate Lavey treats us to a video on location, and Gabrielle Birkner talks to rabbinic consultant Dani Passow in an audio slideshow.
Eddy Portony uncovers the shtetl childhood of MAD Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee.
Adam Rovner takes a look at HBO’s new prohibition-era period drama, “Boardwalk Empire.”
“The Human Resources Manager” is an odd film. That it was recently announced as Israel’s entry into the Academy Awards’ Foreign Language category, after winning five Ophir Awards including Best Feature, says less about the movie itself than it does about the goodwill accrued by director Eran Riklis for more accomplished features such as “The Syrian Bride” and “Lemon Tree.” Unfortunately, “The Human Resources Manager” measures up to neither.
Based on A.B. Yehoshua’s novel “A Woman in Jerusalem,” the film attempts to craft a universal fable out of a very historically and culturally specific story, moving wildly through different tones and narrative modes. The movie initially presents itself as a white-knuckle corporate mystery piece, with the titular Human Resources Manager (Mark Ivanir) of Israel’s largest bakery chasing the identity of a former employee after she dies in a Jerusalem suicide bombing. Though her employment with the bakery had been long-terminated, a recent pay stub found on her body links her back to the company, leaving the Human Resources Manager with 24 hours to identify the woman and solve the puzzle of why she remained on the payroll.
Though Yom Kippur has come and gone, minds are still turned to the past year’s wrongdoings, large and small infractions alike. But what happens when you must evaluate your whole life? What do you apologize for? What do you regret? Whom do you forgive?
These are the questions that are asked in Gavin Kostick’s “This Is What We Sang,” which opened this week as part of New York’s third annual 1st Irish theater festival.
Produced by Kabosh, an Irish troupe that specializes in site-specific theater (one of their previous productions took place in a moving taxi), the show takes place at the Synagogue for the Arts in Tribeca.
Tearful laughter, raunchy story telling, and punchy witticisms are not the typical ingredients one expects to find in a tribute to a late literary legend. Then again, Grace Paley and ‘typical’ never met.
Last Tuesday the Center for Jewish History and Jewish Women’s Archive paid homage to the poet, short story writer and political activist, who passed away in her Vermont home in August 2007. The evening consisted of a panel discussion with excerpts from Lilly Rivlin’s new film, “Grace Paley: Collected Shorts.” The film, which premiered at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in July, will be shown at a selection of upcoming festivals on the East Coast, including the New York Jewish Film Festival in January.
Inspired by Paley’s vast collection of short stories, Rivlin’s film tells the tale of a woman whom a colleague described as “a very small woman who was a giantess.” Rivlin, a writer and political activist herself, shared her experience creating the film: “The challenge about making a film about Grace Paley is that she was a political animal and I saw her everywhere, and the challenge was to make a film about someone who did it all.”
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