New Yiddish Rep has an interesting approach to the tough task of reinvigorating an art form that once thrived in our neighborhood on the Lower East Side. They aim to present “Theater That Happens To Be In Yiddish, not Yiddish That Happens To Be Onstage.” And they assert, “Nostalgia as a selling point is a dead end. Without the young the story is over. The shows we present must be Stimulating. Witty. Daring. Theatrical. Newsworthy.” They promise, “We have much more challenging plans in the works, including plays by Elie Wiesel and Boris Thomashefsky, and experiments with theater styles that have never been done in Yiddish.”
To brush up on your Yiddish, before the plays or for every day use, visit the Russ & Daughters Yiddishisms dictionary and be sure to write to us — at info(@)russanddaughters.com — with your favorite Yiddish phrases, sayings, and memories of the Yiddish theater too.
On Saturday, November 29, at 8:00 p.m., see Eva’s Song; Anita Keal recalls the life and times of her parents, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1914. (1914 is also the year that Joel Russ opened Russ & Daughters’ first store on Orchard Street.) Eva’s Song is performed in English with songs in Yiddish and Russian. “The idea hit me when I was thinking about my granddaughter,” says Keal. “She never had a chance to know her great-grandparents, and I wanted to help her connect to them.” The play was written by Angelo Parra and is directed by Joe Brancato.
On Sunday, November 30, at 7:00 p.m., NYR presents The Essence: A Yiddish Theater Dim Sum, which they claim will cover “the history of Yiddish theater in 80 New York minutes,” in English and Yiddish, with English supertitles.
- Jen Snow