Writer/performer Niv Petel’s one-man show Knock Knock is an explicit, heartbreaking account of the agony faced by bereaved parents of young Israeli soldiers killed during compulsory army service. The dreaded ‘knock knock’ at the door means a trained army therapist has come to tell you the worst. Petel spoke to JR’s arts editor Judi Herman on the stage of the Etcetera Theatre immediately after the show.
Photo by Chris Gardner
Knock Knock runs until Sunday 6 November, 7.30pm & 6.30pm, £8-£10, at Etcetera Theatre, 265 Camden High St, NW1 7BU; 020 7482 4857. www.etceteratheatre.com
At this time of post-Brexit xenophobia and with refugees in crisis, Ragtime’s dramatic account of the hardships and hatred faced by early 20th-century immigrants to America is all too timely.
Terrence McNally’s book works seamlessly with Lynn Ahrens’ lyrics to bring EL Doctorow’s 1975 novel to the stage. The story revolves around the interaction of three families: well-established WASPs (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants) Mother, Father and their Little Boy, with Grandfather and Mother’s Younger Brother; ragtime piano-playing African American Coalhouse Walker and Sarah, the mother of his baby son; and Tateh (Yiddish for daddy), a young Jewish widower newly-arrived from Latvia with his daughter, as well as his hopes. “A Shtetl iz Amereke,” sings Gary Tushaw’s starry-eyed, sympathetic Tateh.
I’ll always be grateful to Steven Berkoff. Back in my days as drama lecturer, blown away by his 1983 play West, his second foray into life on London’s gangland manors, I wrote to him via his agent to ask if I might borrow the unpublished script. The hard copy arrived almost as fast as an email might now, by return with a friendly invitation to keep it. My students adored playing the scabrously ornate muscular verse and the body language it demanded.
Next month Sadeh Farm in Kent is set to open its gates. This may not seem like news in itself, but Sadeh (field in Hebrew) is a unique kind of farm: a Jewish farm. Founded by Talia Chain and co, who have already begun work in the grounds of Skeet Hill House, Sadeh aims to reconnect people with their faiths and each other by working together on the land to grow vegetables. “Here Jewish people of all ages and backgrounds can connect with our rich tradition of Jewish farming and be inspired by a religion based in agriculture,” they promise in their mission statement. While the group are almost set up, they still need financial help to acquire polytunnels, sheds, tools, marketing and legal help and more. Visit their Chuffed crowd-funding page for more info and to donate.
“He shone with the sun”, lilted singer Rosie Archer in a soaring paean that took place as part of many poignant moments during an afternoon of tributes to the playwright Arnold Wesker, who died age 83 on 12 April 2016.
Held at the Royal Court Theatre, Wesker’s spiritual home despite the theatre having turned down Chicken Soup with Barley (it premiered in 1958 at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre), the evening was filled with warm memories of the late playwright from luminaries across the arts world.
You’ll recognise the battered toppers, silk handkerchiefs and the pocket watch, but will you recognise the characters you thought you knew and loved (or hated)? Young orphan Fagin, resourceful and charismatic, escapes the workhouse with his best mate Bill Sykes to build an underground empire, a refuge for the likes of Sykes’s girl Nancy and the Artful Dodger. Then they stumble upon young Oliver Twist.…
What’s the difference between a musical and an opera? One definition might be that in opera the drama is largely generated by the music, in a musical it is largely defined by the text. And of course there are the honourable blends exemplified by Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, adapted from Jewish writer Elmer Rice’s play.
Seeing Street Scene prompted Jason Loewith to attempt a similar musical adaptation based on Rice’s 1923 play The Adding Machine. Joshua Schmidt composed the music, as well as writing the libretto and book together with Loewith for a 2007 American opening.
This autumn the UK International Jewish Film Festival marks its 20th anniversary. To help celebrate the rich smorgasbord of films it has offered over the years, as well as giving us a chance to revel in the world of film, JR asked you to vote for your favourite Jewish film. We can now announce the results! And below our panel of filmmakers and critics have chosen their own favourites.