Monday, October 29, 2012

Dybbuk Revival 2012: Hurricane Edition

The Yiddish Revival is sooooo 2011. From here on out it's all feigned surprise at the persistence of the Yiddishly undead all the time.

2012: Year of the Dybbuk Revival was first announced in my Forward review of Jason Haxton's Dibbuk Box. Much has happened since then in the space between worlds....

In June, Fernando Penalosa, a translator of Yiddish and Maya, among other languages, published a slim, but very exciting, volume of Dybbuk parodies with English translation and notes: Parodies of An-Sky's The Dybbuk.  These are parodies by well known writers and journalists from the time of the Vilna Troupe's original Dybbuk. A friend of mine just got a copy of this volume and instead of stealing hers I may need to go to Plan B and just buy my own. Hmmm....

On August 15 Yiddish vaudevillian Shane Baker and musician Benjy Fox-Rosen workshopped their new two-handed Dybbuk to great acclaim and greater puzzled looks.

At the end of August a new Hollywood movie opened, purporting to be based on the Dybbuk legend. The Possession was a decent enough horror movie, but had more to do with The Exorcist than actual Jewish folklore.

As fall races forward and we get closer to Halloween, Dybbukim are popping up all over. At the University of Maryland the Dybbuk Marathon Conference was scheduled for this weekend. According to the website:

The Dybbuk Marathon conference, "Dybbuks in the 21st Century: Why Are We Still Possessed?", the first of its kind unique combination of academic and artistic events devoted to the iconic Yiddish play, The Dybbuk, Or Between Two Worlds (1912-1914) by S. An-sky, will bring together established academic experts on dybbuks from the US and Israel, a new generation of scholars, students, artists involved in the ongoing revival of interest in dybbuks (souls of the dead possessing the living bodies) in the twenty-first century, as well as Jewish communities of the area, and general public.

And this week! A new production (with all new music) of Tony (Angels in America) Kushner's retelling of the Dybbuk. It's at Queens College, Goldstein Theater:

Special Preview Performance  Wed. October 31 at 7:00
11/1, 11/8 and 11/11 at 7:00
11/3 and 11/10 at 8:00
11/4 and 11/11 at 2:00
(Call the box office at 718-793-8080. Tickets will also be available at the door one hour prior to the performance.)

This isn't the first production of Kushner's Dybbuk. Back in 1997 he collaborated with the world-famous Klezmatics on a brand new score for the show. Those songs were then recorded for their CD, Possessed. It's a beautiful album and has one of the only Yiddish odes to marijuana that I know of. Get it!

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