Elizabeth Denlinger's blog

From Yiddish Melodrama To American Comedy

Yiddish melodrama popped up last week, just yards from the elevated tracks of the 7 train in Queens, at a theater so discreet its name is Secret. Target Margin Theater there presented Allen Lewis Rickman’s enormously enjoyable translation of Isadore Zolotarevsky’s “Gelt, Libe, un Shande” – “Money, Love, and Shame.” Once, perhaps, a play with both pain and laughter, the passage of time has rendered it pure comedy.

Samantha Maurice as Cecilia and Yelena Shmulenson as Sonia in "Money, Love, and Shame!" Erik Carter

Waiting For The End Of The World

Keep an eye out for future productions of Noémi Schlosser’s wry theater piece "Traktorfabrik."  I was lucky enough to catch a staged reading of part of it recently as part of the Emerging Artists Theatre’s New Works Series.

Poster for “Traktorfabrik.” Courtesy of Noemi Schlosser

Two Worlds, Plus A Few More: Benjy Fox-Rosen’s "Tsvey Veltn"

The phrase “Two Worlds” comes from the late Mordechai Gebirtig’s poem of the same name. It refers not, as you might expect, to the old world and the new, but to those of the living and the dead.

Benjy Fox-Rosen and his bass. Peter Blacksberg

The Yiddish Heart – Still Beating

The majestic Bartos Forum at the New York Public Library was nearly packed on November 6th for The Yiddish Heart, directed by Target Margin Theater’s David Herskovits, the first in a series of evenings aimed at bringing to life the collections of the Library’s Dorot Jewish Division. The crowd was interested and enthusiastic, but unless they read their programs carefully, they were at first a bit confused. This was because before the formal program, there was an informal one and this first program was, essentially, a three ring circus.

Shane Baker is a Yiddish maven. Andrew Ingall

Counting the Ninas

For over sixty years, readers of the Sunday New York Times bent over the first page of the Arts & Entertainment section, looking for the Ninas – the name of Al Hirschfeld's daughter, which he worked into his drawings. The triumph in solving those simple puzzles was addictive; once you knew to look for them, you could never turn away. An exhibit of his drawings and many objects from his own collection,“The Line King’s Library,” is now on view at the Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center. 

Leonard Bernstein, date unknown. Photo courtesy the Al Hirschfeld Foundation

Difficult Problems: German Jewish Mathematicians Before WW II

Don’t go to this exhibition in a hurry; and don’t go with children; but if you have the slightest interest in mathematics or Jewish history of the twentieth century, then go. Seeing “Transcending Tradition: Jewish Mathematicians in German-Speaking Academic Culture” at the Center for Jewish History is like reading a short illustrated book mounted on plywood, but your patience will be rewarded. Where does the interest lie for the non-mathematician? In the characters of the people whose histories it tells; and for the glimpses of people at work on fundamental problems.

Original blocks for images from the works of Richard Courant. Elizabeth Denlinger

Yesterday’s Broadsides – From The Valmadonna Trust Library – Still Gripping Today

Broadsides were never meant to survive. Defined as a single printed sheet posted in public, broadsides convey immediate information about a vast number of subjects: changes in the law, upcoming weddings or bnai mitzvot, the details of a death or a funeral, the arrival of the circus, just to name a few.

Menorah blessings, Calcutta, c. 1890. Ardon Bar-Hama

Last Look: Chim at ICP

The International Center of Photography's exhibition "We Went Back: Photographs from Europe 1933 – 1956 by Chim" is up for one more week, till May 5. Admirers of photography, of Israel and of Ingrid Bergman should visit while it's still possible.

Chim, Wedding under an improvised huppah propped up with guns and pitchforks, Israel, 1952. Chim (David Seymour)/Magnum Photos

Puppets, Klezmer And A Polish Tale

A dying puppet begs for water; laughing puppets share apples and steal horses; flirting puppets fly through the air like lovers in a painting by Chagall; in the last scene, a puppet father-to-be is saved from murderous despair by the stirrings of his puppet child in the belly of his puppet wife… Oh, yes, and the klezmer clarinetist (not a puppet), crazed by the Nazis’ murder of his band and everyone in his shtetl, crawls into an earthen burrow and declares himself a badger – a badger who wants his tallis. All this in an hour and ten minutes, and that includes nine songs arranged or composed by Frank London of Klezmatics fame. 
 

Tracking Tenement Gems


The stone faces that look at us from New York City buildings are called grotesques. On the Lower East Side, they form another layer in the city’s immigrant history.

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