Theater

LIU Students Revive Play About 1991 Crown Heights Violence

Anna Deavere Smith’s ‘Fire in the Mirror’ staged for a new generation.

03/26/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

She pioneered a new form of theater by imitating dozens of New Yorkers who played roles in the anti-Jewish riots in Crown Heights. In “Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities,” Anna Deavere Smith brilliantly embodied both black and Jewish subjects, from the Rev. Al Sharpton to Lubavitch Rabbi Shea Hecht.

Anna Devere Smith

A Holocaust ‘Myth’ That Can’t Be Washed Away

‘The Soap Myth’ pits a survivor’s memory against the historical record.

03/20/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

One of the most horrifying stories to come out of the Holocaust is the one about the Nazis turning Jews into bars of soap. But is it true? In Jeff Cohen’s new play, “The Soap Myth,” which is now in previews Off Broadway, a Holocaust survivor pits his eyewitness version of the truth against historians and museum curators who insist on documentary evidence. The play asks searching questions about how the Holocaust should be remembered and understood in an age in which survivors are dying out and Holocaust deniers spew their own hateful views.

Greg Mullavey plays Milton Saltzman, a Holocaust survivor on a crusade in Jeff Cohen’s “The Soap Myth.”

Too Much Jewish Muscle?

03/13/2012

He added muscle, but it stripped him (so to speak) of his self-esteem. That’s the takeaway from Aaron Berg’s solo show, “The Underbelly Diaries,” in which a twenty-something bodybuilder finds himself performing in clubs as a male stripper — a career that led to stints as both a gigolo and male prostitute. In the show, the playwright reflects on a period in his life in which he learned about a seamy side of American society.

Aaron Berg’s play “The Underbelly Diaries” is a window into the world of stripping and bodybuilding.

A Nun With A Jewish Touch

03/06/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

She brought a mystical Jewish strain into her career in the Church and gave comfort to many converts from Judaism who struggled to maintain a connection to Jewish belief and practice. Teresa of Avila, a 16th-century saint whose grandfather was forced to renounce his Jewish identity by the Spanish Inquisition, never lost touch with her Jewish roots. In Begonya Plaza’s new play, “Teresa’s Ecstasy,” starring the playwright, the nun’s Jewish heritage is seen as a driving force in her life and work.

Begonya Plaza as a writer researching Teresa of Avila and her husband (Shawn Elliot) in scene from “Teresa’s Ecstasy.”

Win Some, Lose Some At Oscars

02/28/2012

Jewish director Michel Hazanavicius won top honors at the Oscars for “The Artist,” while Israel’s entry in the awards, “Footnote” by Joseph Cedar, lost to an Iranian film.

“The Artist,” a black-and-white homage to Hollywood’s silent film era, won five Oscars — for best picture, director, actor, costume design and original musical score — at the ceremony Sunday.

A scene from “Footnote,” Israel’s entry in this year’s foreign-language film competition.

‘Flight’ From The Past

A mother-son relationship is burdened by the Holocaust in Michel Wallerstein’s new play.

02/28/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

Can a child be liberated from his or her parent’s traumatic past? In Michel Wallerstein’s new play, “Flight,” the relationship between a Holocaust survivor and her son is warped by her unwillingness to talk about what she suffered during the war. As his mother begins to slide into dementia, her son finds himself running out of time to unlock the secrets buried deep inside his mother.

Maria Tucci portrays a Holocaust survivor in the early stages of dementia in Michel Wallerstein’s “Flight.”

GPS As Prophet

The relationship between man and machine is at the center of Eddie Antar’s ‘The Navigator.’

02/21/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

What if our machines started talking back? In Eddie Antar’s new comedy, “The Navigator,” an omniscient GPS dispenses solutions to an unemployed man’s financial and marital woes. The play, which was nominated for eight Off-Off-Broadway theater awards last year (and won two) has been remounted at the WorkShop Theater Company near Penn Station. Jonathan Mandell of Back Stage called it a “clever, cautionary comedy about our tech-dependent era.”

Joseph Franchini and Kelly Anne Burns as the come-to-life voice of his car’s GPS device in “The Navigator.”

Paradise Lost

02/14/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

When last we saw Eve Adams, the intrepid Jewish bookseller at the center of Barbara Kahn’s play, “The Spring and Fall of Eve Adams,” she was under arrest. The charge was selling “obscene” novels by Henry Miller and Anais Nin, from her Jazz Age lesbian speakeasy and tearoom in Greenwich Village.

Jessica Lurie and her klez-tinged ensemble play 92YTribeca this weekend. Joe Mabel

Making It In America?

‘Russian Transport’ brings the immigrant experience to modern-day Brooklyn, complete with a relative’s shady business.

02/08/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

A working-class Jewish family struggling to make ends meet. A gangster uncle newly arrived from Russia. Conflicts between immigrant parents and their more Americanized children. It all sounds a lot like the early-20th century world of Samson Raphaelson’s “The Jazz Singer” or Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers.”

Morgan Spector and Sarah Steele in “Russian Transport.” Monique Carboni

Schnitzler’s ‘Masterpiece’

01/31/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

Fin de siècle Vienna was, in the words of Jewish satirist Karl Kraus, a “research laboratory for world destruction.” Viennese playwright Arthur Schnitzler agreed; his play, “Professor Bernhardi,” was one of the first plays in German to confront the rising tide of anti-Semitism in early 20th-century Central Europe. Translated by C.J. Weinberger, “Professor Bernhardi” opened in Midtown this week at the TBG Theatre as part of a series of works that were “banned and burned” at some point in their history.

Sam L. Tsoutsouvas as Dr. Bernhardi in Alfred Schnitzler’s “Professor Bernhardi.” Jill Usdan
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