Theater

Staging Gertrude Stein’s Modernism

10/01/2014
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Paris in the early-20th century was a hotbed of artistic and sexual experimentation. Even so, the expatriate American writer Gertrude Stein stood out as a gay Jewish woman whose art was as uncompromising and unconventional as her lifestyle. Stein’s book of prose poetry, “Tender Buttons,” comes to the stage this month in an epic production by the Van Reipen Collective that promises to shed new light on one of Stein’s most challenging and influential works. It starts this week in the East Village.

A scene from "Tender Buttons," adapted from the writings of Gertrude Stein. Gary Heidt

Sending Up British Jewry, Lovingly

09/24/2014
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Exiled from their land for more than 350 years, English Jews have always led a somewhat marginalized existence, even though many of the have risen to positions of great prominence and prestige. In Daniel Cainer’s one-man show, “Jewish Chronicles,” the contradictions of Jewish life in England come both bruisingly and enchantingly to the fore. When he performed in Sydney, Australia, in 2010, critic Lloyd Bradford of Australian Stage Online found that Cainer’s songs forge “deep connections” between his own chaotic personal experiences and the colorful life of his people. “Jewish Chronicles” opens downtown in early October for a five-and-a-half-week run.

The book on British Jews: Daniel Cainer his "Jewish Chronicles." Sheila Burnett

Moses’ Sixth Book

09/16/2014
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According to Jewish tradition, the most important book in the history of the world came from his hand, but most of us think of him more as a prince and prophet than as a writer. In Andrew Heinze’s new comedy, “Moses, the Author,” the leader of the Israelites comes back to life as a struggling wordsmith facing a plethora of perplexing personal problems. The play, which was performed at the Fringe Festival in August, will return as part of the Fringe Encores series. It runs at the Soho Playhouse over the last weekend of September and the first weekend of October.

Moses, portrayed by Mitch Tebo, center, struggles with writer’s block and family dynamics. Dixie Sheridan

Bearing Up

09/09/2014
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How much suffering can a person bear? Suzanne Tanner’s “Beyond Me: A Song Cycle in the Key of Survival” is a one-woman multimedia show based on the tragic experiences of Rachel Goldman Miller, a Parisian Jewish Holocaust survivor who lost her parents, sister and two brothers to the Nazis, and then, after coming to America and starting a new life, lost a son to AIDS. The play runs next Saturday evening at the United Solo Festival in Midtown.

“Beyond Me,” a one-woman multimedia shows, tells the story of a Holocaust survivor who has endured many losses. Deirdre Price

Surviving Auschwitz, Times Two

Czech actress and athlete are focus of ‘The Good and the True.’

09/03/2014
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They may be equally hair-raising and heartrending, but no two stories of survival in Auschwitz are exactly the same.

Isobel Pravda and Saul Reichlin star in “The Good and the True.” Svandovo Divadlo

Sprinting Toward Understanding

09/02/2014
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It was the disappointment of a lifetime. Two Jewish sprinters, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, were suddenly dropped from the U.S. track team at the 1936 Summer Olympics (known as the “Nazi Olympics”) in Berlin in favor of two African-American athletes, Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe. In “Olympics Über Alles,” a play by Samuel J. Bernstein and Marguerite Krupp, the incident becomes the catalyst for a controversial contemporary museum exhibit in New York. The play began performances last week in Midtown.

Joshua Quat, Michael Engberg as the Jewish sprinters Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller in “Olympics Über Alles.”  Carol Rosegg

Echoes Of Gaza At The Fringe

Two aspects of Palestinian terrorism on tap at politically minded festival.

08/12/2014
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Despite this week’s cease-fire in Gaza, the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians reverberates half a world away in New York. In two plays at the New York International Fringe Festival this month, different facets of Palestinian terrorism come to the fore. In one, a one-woman show from Israel called “Samira,” presented by Anat Barzilay, the psychology of a female suicide bomber is laid bare. In the other, Meron Langsner’s “Over Here,” two young construction workers, one an Israeli and the other a Palestinian, forge a fragile friendship while on a job site in Lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11. Both plays are running through Aug. 24 in the East Village. 

Anat Barzilay, the playwright and star of “Samira,” about a female suicide bomber.  Courtesy of Fringe Festival

When Shiva Means More Than Mourning

A family comes apart in Josh Metzger’s ‘Sitting Shiva.’

08/06/2014
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In the intensity of its detachment from ordinary life, the shiva period can be an opportunity for bonding among the surviving family members. Or, as in Josh Metzger’s new play, “Sitting Shiva,” the Jewish mourning ritual can thrust family members together in a way that that brings long-buried resentments and jealousies to the fore. In Metzger’s lacerating drama, three middle-aged Jewish brothers who have gathered to mark their father’s passing end up battling over his emotional and financial patrimony. It runs through mid-August at the New York International Fringe Festival.

Neal Mayer stars as the eldest of three brothers in Josh Metzger’s in “Sitting Shiva.” Kristin Hoebermann

For Bert Berns’ Children, A Labor Of Love

New musical about soulful but long-forgotten songwriter is ‘fulfillment of Dad’s dream.’

08/05/2014
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They never knew their father, but the children of songwriter Bert Berns have spent the better part of a decade trying to rescue him from oblivion. And they are making a lot of people wonder why the creator of “Twist and Shout,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and “Here Comes the Night” ever slipped from the rock music radar in the first place.

The cast of “Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story.” Jenny Anderson

The Keys To Survival

Mona Golabek’s Holocaust-themed ‘The Pianist of Willesden Lane.’

07/30/2014
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If anyone believes in the healing and redemptive properties of music, it is pianist Mona Golabek. Her new play, “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” traces the harrowing story of her mother’s escape from the Nazis on the Kindertransport and the rebuilding of her life in London, on the way to a concert music career. It opened last week in Midtown; Charles Isherwood of The New York Times calls it “deeply affecting,” noting that the play is “packed with startling setbacks … and equally dramatic triumphs.”

Mona Golabek in “The Pianist of Willesden Lane.” Cynthia N. Olkie
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