Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Reminder

A Brokhe

A Blessing

My new play.

And right now, the only place you can see it is this December 28th, 3:45 pm, at Yiddish New York. Well, you can't see the whole thing. But at least an excerpt. And me talking for an hour. So, register now.

Memory, Performance and Perets

If you were at Klezkanada this year, you were lucky. Among other highlights, we had a special focus on the 100th yortsayt of Y.L. Perets. If you weren't at Klezkanada, you can still spend some quality time with the Perets legacy. This Sunday at YIVO at 2 pm:
Y. L. Peretz (1852-1915) was the father of the Yiddish cultural revolution that transformed Jewish life in the early 20th century. The first to bring high literary talent to the workers’ movement, the first to use Jewish folklore for literary creation and the first Jewish cultural figure to enlist in electoral politics, Peretz championed a culture that embraced both tradition and modernist invention, and fought for its right to flourish in dangerous times.

If you've had enough of Perets at this point [WHAT????] there is a wonderful talk at the same time, a bit further downtown. Theater historian Alisa Solomon will be talking about her fantastic exploration of Fiddler on the Roof, Wonder of Wonders, at the Eldridge Street Synagogue. And if you thought you knew all there was to know about FotR, trust me, you don't know the half of it. Sunday, November 1 at 3 pm.
When it burst onto Broadway in 1964, Fiddler on the Roof was an instant sensation. But the show’s success went well beyond its nine Tony awards and record smashing ticket sales. Join Columbia University Professor Alisa Solomon, author of the acclaimed book Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof, for a fascinating talk about this remarkable musical. Sharing stories the New York Times called "as rich and dense as chocolate babka," Solomon gives us an inside look at the talented team who clashed, collaborated, and created this most celebrated of shows and explores how a musical about shtetl life became a cultural touchstone for audiences around the world.
Looking further ahead...

Coming up on Tuesday, November 10 is an event with a very personal connection for me. My friend Isabelle Rozenbaumas has spent the last few years researching the education of the girls of inter-war Telz, Lithuania. The education the girls received there was remarkably broad and demanding. I'm pretty sure I would have struggled to keep up with the Yavne curriculum.  I often think of the girls of Telz when working on my play. A Brokhe centers on the post-war lives of two young women who came of age in Eastern Europe but must now adjust to America and the American educational system. Isabelle's work is my link to the lived experience of ambitious Jewish girls of Eastern Europe.

This lecture will reflect on Rozenbaumas’s research process through archival documents, oral testimonies, photographs, eyewitness accounts, and yizkor-bikher (memorial books). Rozenbaumas will outline her efforts in teaching with these materials, as well as her work developing an open-space installation in the marketplace of Telsiai.

And last but not least. Just as Isabelle is doing multi-media memory work with her Telz research, for years Wolf Krakowski has been making music that integrates the soul of Polish Yiddish life with contemporary sounds. It's a lot more remarkable than that. His first album, Transmigrations, created a cult of fandom whose ranks seems to be still growing, some 20 years after its release.

A few days ago Wolf sent me this, his first video. And because it's Wolf, it's not just a performance of a new song, but a daring exploration of memory and how it lives on, and through, us. Enjoy!