Sunday, December 30, 2018

Unusual Jews

Happy almost goyish New Year! 
(Jump to the bottom for a couple juicy Yiddish events)

Despite having a disgusting cold, I just spent a magical almost-week at Yiddish New York. One of my personal highlights was having the honor of presenting my work to friends and colleagues. First, I gave an updated and expanded version of a lecture debuted last year called 'The Deathless Klezmer Revival.' In order to understand better what's been going on in the past oh, 46 years of the 'Klezmer Revival', I dove into some comparative revival history. Did you know about the ragtime revival of the '70s? I didn't before I wrote this lecture, but boy, do I now. In addition to doing comparative history, we talked about the elements of a revival, how they apply to the work being done on klezmer, and why the word 'revival' just won't go away. It was really, really fun.

My second lecture was completely new. 'The Most Unusual Jew I Know' was written in honor of my friend Shane Baker's yoyvl, his fiftieth birthday. I opened with a brief overview of Shane's multi-varied body of work, from literary translator to teacher to performer. But what I really focused on were Shane's influences: from the downtown camp extravaganzas of Charles Ludlam to the fabulous women of the Yiddish stage. All of those influences can be seen in his newest, and in my opinion, most significant, new work, a drag character called Mitzi Manna. It's in the persona of Mitzi that all these influences speak- across artistic milieux, across time, and across continents. Throw in a dollop of Judith Butler (no, but seriously) and you've got an extremely entertaining, and, if I do say so myself, provocative afternoon.

Shane as Mitzi Manna as the non-binary Jew

Both lectures are available for your Hadassah meeting, university Yiddish club or Hillel. I can even bring Shane, too, if you have the budget.

If you missed Shane's triumphant performance as Mitzi during Yiddish New York, you can still catch his brilliant new interpretation of MONISH, the classic Peretz prose poem about Yiddish romance. I thought I had heard everything there was to hear about Monish. Until I saw this production. I'm serious. You need to see this.

The show will be preceded by a concert by visiting pianist David Serebryanik, including Three Piano Pieces by Georg Kreisler; Gershwin's Preludes; excerpts from Viktor Ullmann's The Lay of Love and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke; as well as original preludes of David's own.


Wednesday, January 2nd
7:30 PM
Scorca Hall at Opera America
330 Seventh Avenue, 7th Floor
Admission $25

Get your tickets here

....Coming up later this week at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center in the Bronx, Sunday, January 6th at 1:30. Rukhl Schaechter, Editor of the Forverts will be speaking (in Yiddish) on possibly the most divisive topic in Jewish history, gefilte fish. Lecture followed by (if a devastating sweet vs. pepper brawl hasn't broken out) a performance by the fabulous Sasha Lurje

Contribution: $5 Members: Free.
Information: 917-930-0295

And finally, so much of what happens during the year in the Yiddish and klezmer world is facilitated by magic of Klezkanada. Please think about giving them an end of year donation to keep the magic going.

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