Monthly Archives: September 2015

If I were a rich girl… As Yiddish gem Treasure is unearthed at Finborough Theatre, Judi Herman polishes up on its backstory

© Richard Lakos

© Richard Lakos

What do The Dybbuk, The Golem and Fiddler on the Roof have in common? Their stories were all originally written in Yiddish. From Franz Kafka to Danny Kaye, the influence of Yiddish theatre is far reaching. Four years before the first professional production in Yiddish took place in a Romanian wine garden in 1876, one of its most influential writers, David Pinski, was born into a cosmopolitan Jewish family in Mohilev, Russia (now Belarus). He moved to Warsaw, Switzerland, Vienna and Berlin before emigrating to New York in 1899, where he lived for 50 years. While there he was an active member of Jewish cultural and political life and was president of the Jewish National Workers’ Alliance from 1920-22, and president of the Jewish Culture Society from 1930-53. Finally, in 1949, the committed left-wing Zionist moved to Israel, where he lived until his death in 1959.

Pinski wrote over 60 plays and there were novels too. His subject matter ranged from stories of the lives, struggles and dreams of the ordinary Jewish folk to Biblical themes, including both King David and King Solomon, their wives, and the coming of a future Messiah.

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The Millenium Awards 15 years on – Geraldine Auerbach traces four of the lives it changed

MAS sophie solomon

Sophie Solomon

The millennium was a time of fireworks and celebrations, but it also marked a moment for Jewish music to benefit enormously. The Jewish Music Institute (JMI), in partnership with the music department at SOAS, was fortunate to win £240k from the Millennium Commission to give away in grants to enable individuals to achieve their dream projects in Jewish music. Fifteen years on, we can see how significantly awareness of Jewish music – and lives – were changed.

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Words of art: Неrе, Oh Israel – Hear! A poem by Marlene Sutton

Joseph, Lily Delissa, Self-Portrait with Candles

Joseph, Lily Delissa, Self-Portrait with Candles

“I recently visited the Ben Uri exhibition at Somerset House and saw again the self-portrait of Lily Delissa Joseph. I had first seen it at a Ben Uri show 20 years before in Bristol, at the launch of DAVAR (the Jewish Cultural and Educational Institute in Bristol and the South West), and am sending the poem I wrote after that event. Clive Lawton gave the inaugural address.” – Marlene Sutton

Read Marlene Sutton’s 1995 poem in its entirety by clicking here

Out of Chaos: 100 Ben Uri Works for 100 Years runs until Sunday 26 February at Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, NE1 8AG. 0191 278 1611.

Vienna’s Jews and the Ringstrasse

Ringstrasse at Jewish Museum Vienna

Vienna’s famous boulevard, the Ringstrasse, was a thriving hub for Jewish bourgeoisie in 19th century Austria. David Herman reviews Ringstrasse: A Jewish Boulevard which accompanies an exhibition on the street at Vienna’s Jewish Museum.

Fin-de-siècle Vienna has become a source of fascination for cultural historians over the past forty years. There are several reasons. It was one of the birthplaces of 20th century art and ideas:  writers such as Schnitzler and Hofmannstahl, painters such as Klimt and Kokoschka, great figures of Modernism from Freud to Schoenberg. “In almost every field of human thought and activity,” writes Ray Monk in his biography of Wittgenstein, “the new was emerging from the old, the twentieth century from the nineteenth.”

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Review: Patrick Marber’s National Theatre Hat Trick – Judi Herman cheers on the writer/director from the touchline


It’s been years since Patrick Marber has written  for the theatre, so it’s good to be able to report that on his return he has scored a triumphant hat trick. Already the author of hugely successful plays Dealer’s Choice and Closer (both premiered at the National Theatre), as well as being scriptwriter and a performer with Steve Coogan on the TV hit Alan Partridge, Marber is now reconquering London’s National Theatre. He’s written a football drama, The Red Lion, has directed his own adaptation of Turgenev’s A Month in the Country – now Three Days in the Country – and he’s worked as a dramaturg on subtly streamlining George Farquhar’s glorious Restoration comedy, The Beaux’ Stratagem (pictured above). You can see The Beaux’ Stratagem in cinemas from Thursday 3 September as part of NTLive, but read our reviews of all three right here in one place.

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