The Arts

Playing Another Larry David Misanthrope

Jason Alexander is back on the boards (25 years after his last Broadway role) in ‘Fish in the Dark.’

Special To The Jewish Week

When he first auditioned for “Seinfeld,” Jason Alexander received a copy of the script and noticed a Woody Allen vibe in the character of George Costanza. So he put on a pair of glasses, a New York accent, and the affect of a hapless curmudgeon. He had no idea at the time that George was meant to be an alter ego for the show’s co-creator, Larry David.

In new Broadway role, Alexander draws on his classical acting training, but he knows that “the comic in me has to win.”

Bound For Vilna

Special To The Jewish Week

Actors are typically front and center in our own theater, but the Russian stage has been dominated, for at least the last century, by the director. Konstantin Slanislavski, Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko and Vsevolod Meyerhold famously reshaped their actors’ bodies and minds in order to enable the expression of profound emotion.

A scene from “Smile at Us, Oh Lord” by Lithuanian playwright Grigory Kanovich. Vakhtangov State Academic Theatrer

Of Cows And The Conflict

Two documentaries at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival move through the minefields of Israel and the West Bank.

Special To The Jewish Week

A Palestinian classroom and an Israeli one at the center of “This Is My Land." Courtesy of Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Light Show

Special To The Jewish Week

In his foundational mystical text, “Sha’are Orah” (Gates of Light), the 13th-century Spanish kabbalist Joseph ben Abraham Gikatilla used light as a metaphor to stand for the essence of the divine. For composer David Homan and his wife, choreographer Ariel Grossman, light is a symbol of human energy and striving. Their new work, “Ori” (My Light), premieres next week at a festival in Chelsea that also features the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane and Carolyn Dorfman Dance Companies.

Ariel Grossman and David Homan, the husband-and-wife team behind the Ariel Rivka Dance Company.

Matters Of Identity, Mideast Style

The opening and closing night offerings in the Israel Film Center Festival deal with a similar theme in very different ways.

Special To The Jewish Week

In the turbulence of the contemporary Middle East, a little thing like personal identity is fragile, evanescent and in jeopardy. That would seem to be the message of the opening and closing night films on display at this year’s weeklong Israel Film Center Festival, which begins June 4.

Director Eran Riklis, whose new film is “A Borrowed Identity.”    Courtesy of Israel Film Center

Not Your Average Arias

Special To The Jewish Week

‘I’ve always been fascinated by the Holocaust,” playwright Steven Carl McCasland mused recently, as one of his plays was about to open in New York. In one of them, “Der Kanarienvogel,” soprano Elisabeth Schwartzkopf (Anna Kirkland) grapples with accusations that she is a Nazi sympathizer. A cast of more than two dozen actors is presenting a total of five of McCasland’s plays in repertory this month in Kips Bay; the festival also includes “Little Wars,” about a fictional dinner party in which Gertrude Stein has a fateful dinner party with Lillian Hellman, Muriel Gardiner, and other writers, in the middle of which France falls to Germany.

Soprano Elisabeth Schwartzkopf is subject of new play.  Wikimedia Commons

A Measure Of Mercy

‘The Farewell Party’ casts a compassionate and respectful eye on the indignities of Alzheimer’s.

Special To The Jewish Week

The Disease-of-the-Week movie tends to be a cheap and easy way for artists to assert their virtues. Who could possibly take offense at a film, or for that matter a charity fundraising pitch, that denounces cancer or heart disease? As long as no one raises questions about the environmental, economic or socio-political bases of diseases, as long as we all agree to talk only about “innocent” victims of illness, nobody will complain.

Aliza Rozen as Yana, Levana Finkelshtein as Levana, Ze’ev Revah as Yehezkel, Ilan Dar as Dr. Daniel and Rafael Tabor as Raffi.

Stalin Was One Tough Critic

Special To The Jewish Week

He was one of the greatest actors of all time, but his life and career depended on pleasing a megalomaniacal monster. In David Schneider’s new play, “Making Stalin Laugh,” Solomon Mikhoels struggles to keep the Moscow State Jewish Theater (known as GOSET) afloat at a perilous time when policies of state were in constant flux; notably unstable were policies toward the arts and the Jews, whom the Soviets alternately lauded for their opposition to Fascism and reviled for their ties to a foreign homeland. New Yiddish Rep presents the play this Sunday and Monday in a workshop production in the East Village.

Gera Sandler stars as Solomon Mikhoels in the New Yiddish Rep’s “Making Stalin Laugh.” Yanay Yahiel

‘To Tell Mizrahi Stories’

Rohr Prize-winner Ayelet Tsabari is a writer on a mission.

Culture Editor

To read Ayelet Tsabari’s stories is to walk right into the living room of an elderly Yemenite grandmother cared for by a young Filipina woman in Rosh HaAyin, or a loud Tel Aviv bar filled with soldiers in varying degrees of off-duty, or to have tea in a backyard garden on an island off Vancouver, where license plates read “The Best Place on Earth.”

Tsabari’s stories are peopled with the children and grandchildren of imigrants from Yemen, Iraq and Morocco.  HarperCollins

Taking His Shots

Argentine-Jewish director Martin Rejtman on comedy, the New Argentine Cinema and fiction writing.

Special To The Jewish Week

It was a situation out of one of his films.

Martín Rejtman sat down to answer questions for an e-mail interview while he waited for his plane from Hong Kong to New York in the departure lounge Sunday. Then his computer seized up. Eventually he found himself working on a communal machine in the departure lounge, typing hurriedly as the time for boarding approached.

Martin Rejtman’s films are characterized by taciturn, deadpan humor. Courtesy of Cinema Tropical
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