The Arts

Stalin Was One Tough Critic

05/11/2015 - 20:00
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.

05/11/2015 - 20:00
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.

05/11/2015 - 20:00
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

To Ban Or Not To Ban Nazi Films?

Felix Moeller’s ‘Forbidden Films’ raises that thorny question.

05/05/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

During the Nazi era, the German film industry produced over 1,200 feature films. After the war, some 300 of them were banned by the Allied occupying forces. Today, 40 of those films are still banned in Germany. The only permitted screenings of them take place in scholarly settings, and unauthorized showings are punishable by law.

Scene from Gustav Ucicky’s Nazi propaganda film “Homecoming,” in “Forbidden Films.”  Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films

And Baby Makes…

05/04/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Overpopulation may pose a dire threat to the planet, but how often does it factor in a woman’s decision about whether or not to have a baby? In Steven Somkin’s new play, “Melissa’s Choice,” a feminist Jewish attorney finds herself caught between her principles and her desire to procreate. Like Wendy Wasserstein’s 1988 play “The Heidi Chronicles,” but within a 21st-century framework, “Melissa’s Choice” centers on a woman who struggles to “have it all” — to be fulfilled in terms of her deepest yearnings and values. The play is running on Theatre Row in Midtown.

Steven Somkin deals with women’s contemporary choices in “Melissa’s Choice.”

Reconciling With Mom

Alice Eve Cohen’s memoir, ‘The Year My Mother Came Back.’

05/04/2015 - 20:00
Culture Editor

Alice Eve Cohen didn’t expect her mother to take center stage in her memoir. But as she was writing about a very challenging year in the life of her family, her late mother seemed to appear, on the page and at the kitchen table.

Alice Eve Cohen’s newest memoir recounts a difficult year in her adult life.  Janet Charles Photos

An Exit Ramp Off Weill’s Epic ‘Road’

Goal of slimmed-down version of ‘The Eternal Road’ is to ‘get it back into the repertoire.’

04/27/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Even in a city addicted to eye-popping spectacles, Kurt Weill’s “The Eternal Road,” which opened in New York in 1937, was the most extravagant musical production that anyone had ever seen. Intended as a wake-up call to Americans about the worsening plight of the Jews of Germany, the show centers on a rabbi who employs stories from the Hebrew Bible to teach a Jewish boy about his heritage, even as demonic forces gather around the synagogue where the lessons are taking place — forces that the boy may be able to defeat once his education is complete. A new, slimmed-down, concert staging, using one of the work’s original titles, “The Road of Promise,” comes to Carnegie Hall next week with Broadway veteran Ron Rifkin in the cast, along with eight operatic soloists.

Veteran actor Ron Rifkin stars as character who doubts his religion in “The Road of Promise.” Courtesy of ABC Television

Klezmer Fiddlers Revel In Freedom

Two violinists, a generation apart, go it alone and together.

04/27/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

It’s the sheer freedom that appeals to Jake Shulman-Ment.

“It’s like taking off a set of chains,” he says. “The freedom and the flexibility [are] so different.”

Deborah Strauss and Jake Shulman-Ment: Strings attached.  Courtesy of Museum at Eldridge Street

‘The Religion Of Art’ On The Lower East Side

04/27/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

With the passing earlier this month of Judith Malina, the co-founder of the Living Theatre, the Lower East Side lost one of its true artistic pioneers. But while Malina was associated with the heyday of the counterculture in the 1960s, the neighborhood has continued to support a vibrant experimental theater scene until the present day, and to nurture the careers of a plethora of Jewish artists.

Clove Galilee is the subject of new one-woman play. Quincy Stamper

Sins Of The Fathers

Tribeca documentary looks at complicated Nazi family legacies; plus, riding the Empire Builder across the Great Plains with Albert Maysles.

04/20/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Although Robert DeNiro, who was one of its founders, recently disclosed that he thought the Tribeca Film Festival would be a one-shot deal, the event has hung on and grown every year. This year’s festival, currently running all over lower Manhattan, is no exception, with several new sidebar events focusing on new media.

Horst von Wachter, Philippe Sands (back to camera) and Niklas Frank at the site of a mass murder of Jews by Nazis. Tribeca Film
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