"The Merchant of Venice," like many of Shakespeare’s middle “comedies,” is often considered a problem play: the language is dense, the final courtroom scene fraught with near-tragedy, and for even the most casual observer, the language is steeped with anti-Semitic vitriol.
When was the last time you thought about – or stopped thinking about – this: “It’s not so simple to love your mommy.” Israeli novelist and philosopher Ruby Namdar surprises his audience at the 14th St. Y’s LABAlive performance with that deceptively simple - - yet highly provocative - - opening line in his introduction to the evening’s performance.
Cranberry sauce is left untouched on the Thanksgiving table. A mullah proposes a temporary marriage to a Jewess on a flight. A Southern woman who looks like she comes from generations of country club members is actually the daughter of an Iranian Jew.
Approaching his 62nd birthday, my husband announced he wanted to be a stand-up comedian. I do laugh at his jokes, but a stand-up? I don’t know…..I took him to see “Old Jews Telling Jokes,” playing off-Broadway, on his birthday for a taste of the classics.
The Jewish Studies Center at Baruch College hosted an ambitious and absorbing program, “Jewish Arts and Identity in the Contemporary World” on May 7th. Three panels – on theater, music and the visual arts - were the core of the conference complemented by a performance by Audrey Flack and the Art History Band.
Little did the theater director David Herskovitz know, when he caught The Jewish Museum’s 2008 exhibit on Marc Chagall and the Russian Jewish Theater, that he would end up spending the next stage of his career staging forgotten Yiddish works. Herskovitz’s theater company, Target Margin, is discovering that rescuing Yiddish plays from oblivion can transform audiences’ expectations.
Hannah Arendt was deadly serious when she coined the term “the banality of evil” to refer to the matter-of-factness with which the Nazis committed genocide. But in the hands of playwright Ken Kaissar, the contemplation of the mass murder of the Jews becomes a springboard for outrageous satire. His play, “A Modest Suggestion,” opens next week in Midtown, and it features Jeff Auer, Bob Greenberg, Ethan Hova, Russell Jordan, Jonathan Marballi and Robert W. Smith.