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.

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.

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.

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


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’

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?


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.

Not Getting To The Mountaintop

Richard Dreyfuss finds parallels between himself and Abraham Joshua Heschel
as he plays the rabbi in downscaled show.

Special To The Jewish Week

 On the surface, no two people seem farther apart than the movie star from Beverly Hills and the famous German refugee rabbi. But Richard Dreyfuss, now appearing as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in Colin Greer’s “Imagining Heschel” at the Cherry Lane Theater, feels a profound kinship with the character he plays.

Dreyfuss as Heschel: Was Vatican mission a failure?

I.L. Peretz, Melody Maker


He may not have achieved the popularity of his fellow Yiddish writer, Sholom Aleichem, but I. L. Peretz (1852-1915) was also a heavyweight of Yiddish literature at the turn of the 20th century. While the author of the “Tevye” stories was known for his folksy brand of humor, Peretz was inspired by chasidic folklore to express the mystical resonances in Jewish tradition.

French mime and performance artist Rafael Goldwaser stars in Peretz plays at the Folksbiene.

A Jewish Prophet At The Vatican

Abraham Joshua Heschel’s meeting in Rome is dramatized in ‘Imagining Heschel.’

Special To The Jewish Week

At the height of the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, America’s most prominent rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel, embarked on a secret mission to Rome.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

The Avenger


How do the children of Holocaust survivors inherit their parents’ trauma?

In Marsha Lee Sheiness’ new play, “Second Hand Smoke,” based on the novel by Thane Rosenbaum, a rage-filled ex-Nazi hunter, Duncan Katz, battles to overcome his parents’ horrific legacy as he journeys from New York to Poland to meet the brother he never knew. Dylan McDermott, star of TV’s “The Practice” and “Dark Blue,” leads a dozen member cast under the direction of Robert Kalfin in a staged reading Monday night at the JCC in Manhattan.

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