Theater

Matthew Lopez’s Ambivalent Seder

‘Whipping Man’ playwright discusses what the Passover meal says about freedom and redemption.

02/22/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

Passover is, for many of us, an unequivocally joyful holiday. The tablecloth is set with fine china and sparkling silverware, the children are freshly scrubbed, and the seder rejuvenates us with its theme of freedom and rebirth.

Jay Wilkison, André Braugher and André Holland in the pivotal scene from Matthew Lopez’s “The Whipping Man.”

Black And Jewish, Searching For Home

02/15/2011

How are children affected by a parent’s racial and religious identities? In Lian Amaris’ new one-woman play, “Daddy’s Black and Jewish,” which premieres next week in the East Village, the performance artist reflects on her relationship with her adoptive father, the radical black intellectual Julius Lester, who converted to Judaism in 1982.

Lian Amaris’ “Daddy’s Black and Jewish” explores the impact her adoptive father, Julius Lester, has had on her identity.

Meyer Levin’s ‘Obsession’

Two current plays look at the writer’s quest to dramatize Anne Frank’s diary.

02/15/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

He was one of the leading literary lights of the 20th century, but it was another writer’s work that became the object of his obsession. Meyer Levin was a prolific Jewish writer who struggled fruitlessly for three decades to get the world to pay attention to his play about Anne Frank. Now, three decades after his death, Levin finally gets his due with two different plays about his quest on view simultaneously in New York.

Anne Frank, as puppet, and Mandy Patinkin in scene from "Compulsion."

Freedom Seder?

‘The Whipping Man,’ with Passover at its center, revisits the horror of slavery in the South.

02/01/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

With its overarching message of freedom and redemption, Passover seems better suited to America than any other Jewish holiday. And one of the most striking aspects of Passover in this country is the appeal that it has for non-Jews, especially African-Americans

Jay Wilkison, André Braugher and André Holland in Matthew Lopez’s “The Whipping Man.”

Judith Malina’s ‘Jewish Anarchist Play’

In retelling the biblical Korach story, the actor, director and theater co-founder brings together a lifetime of lessons in experimental drama and politics.

01/18/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

It wasn’t Judith Malina who made one of the Bible’s most notorious villains into the unlikeliest hero of this theatrical season.

It was the Mishna.

Poster for Malina’s “Korach.” Biblical figure is “history’s first recognized anarchist.”

All The Rabbinic World’s A Stage

Argentine playwright Vivi Tellas’ reality-based ‘Rabbi Rabino’ previewed.

01/12/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

Theater and religion have overlapped since ancient Greek dramas were performed at religious festivals. For the Argentine Jewish director and playwright, Vivi Tellas, synagogue-going and theater-going are still flip sides of the same coin. In her new avant-garde play, “Rabbi Rabino,” two real-life Conservative rabbis from Queens, Hyman Levine and Moses Birnbaum, expose aspects of both their professional and personal lives. Erik Piepenburg of The New York Times Artsbeat blog called the show an “irreverent mini-variety show about Judaism and modern identity.”

Two real-life Conservative rabbis from Queens, Hyman Levine and Moses Birnbaum, in a scene from "Rabbi Rabino."

Broadway’s Very Jewish Year

From Shylock to Sondheim, a rich year on the boards.

12/28/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

In a year of great theater, both on and off Broadway, many of the most memorable performances were turned in by actors in Jewish plays. Herewith, in no particular order, are the Jewish Week’s top five Jewish plays of 2010, three of which are still running into 2011. 

‘The Merchant of Venice’

Al Pacino has three weeks left in his role as the Jewish moneylender Shylock in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice."

The Trouble They’ve Seen

12/14/2010

Are the Holocaust and slavery comparable? In Veronica Page’s new Off-Broadway play, “Prayers for the Ghetto,” a Jewish girl (Linda Wartenweiler) and two black girls (Ta’ Donna Nagle and Thais Francis) grapple with the legacy of the crimes perpetrated against their peoples — and, by extension, against all of humanity. The play moves from a Nazi-occupied ghetto during the Second World War to a drug and prostitute-afflicted Crown Heights in the 1980s, asking probing questions about forgiveness and faith.

Scene from “Prayers for the Ghetto,” which touches on the Holocaust and slavery.

‘Joys And Angst Of The Holidays’

12/01/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Jews and Christians have very different rituals that mark the onset of winter, but they share the pleasures and stresses of the holiday season. In Laurence Holzman and Felicia Needleman’s revue, “That Time of the Year,” which opens this weekend at the White Plains Performing Arts Center, two dozen new songs illuminate various aspects of the winter festivals.

“That Time of the Year” runs through Dec. 19 at the White Plains Performing Arts Center

Who Was Peter Sellers?

11/23/2010

They called him the consummate character actor, the man who disappeared into his roles so completely that his own personality was invisible. Who was the real Peter Sellers?

David Boyle as Peter Sellers in “Being Sellers.” Questions of identity haunted the enigmatic actor.
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