In Shirleymander Jessica Martin plays Westminster Council leader Shirley Porter in Gregory Evans’ dark satire charting the events behind the Westminster ‘homes for votes’ scandal of the 1980s. She tells Judi Herman more about the resonance for 2018 of a play staged in a theatre barely five minutes from Grenfell Tower. Martin describes the scandal as “a real-life House of Cards situation” and Porter as “a north London Marie Antoinette”. The Spitting Image star also gives a taste of her Edwina Currie, and we get a peek at some of the exciting graphic novels she writes and illustrates too.
Shirleymander runs Wednesday 23 May – Saturday 16 June. 7.30pm (Mon-Sat), 2.30pm (Thu & Sat only). £25, £15 concs. The Playground Theatre, W10 6RQ. 020 8960 0110. www.theplaygroundtheatre.london
As Tik-sho-ret Theatre Company prepare to bring their haunting production of Israeli playwright Yonatan Calderon’s Under the Skin to Brighton, Judi Herman speaks to the company’s artistic director Ariella Eshed. Discover the few known facts about concentration camp guard Annelise Kohlmann as the story of a love affair between her and a young female prisoner unfolds, before revealing the aftermath in 1991 Tel Aviv under threat during the Gulf War. Read about the show in more detail in our review of Under the Skin.
Photo by Lidia Crisafulli
Under the Skin runs Wednesday 16 & Thursday 17 May in Sussex as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival. 7pm. £10, £8.50 concs. The Warren: Theatre Box, Brighton, BN1 4GU. www.brightonfringe.org
In a life-affirming show woven from the true story of her great-grandparents, Canadian writer Hannah Moscovitch uses klezmer and drama to tell the tale of two refugees arriving in Nova Scotia in 1908, having fled the pogroms in Romania. Here Moscovitch reveals more about Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, a double award-winning show (on the Edinburgh Fringe 2017) with real contemporary resonance and relevance from Canada’s 2b Theatre Company.
By Judi Herman
Photo by Stoo Metz Photography
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story runs Thursday 17 – Saturday 19 May in Bristol as part of Mayfest. 7.30pm (Thu-Sat), 2.30pm (Sat only). £5-£21. Bristol Old Vic, BS1 4ED. https://bristololdvic.org.uk
Ahead of this year’s Yom Hasho’ah event at JW3, which features a performance of Bertolt Brecht’s chilling one-act play The Jewish Wife, JR’s arts editor Judi Herman spoke to director Katharina Reinthaller (speaking all the way from Melbourne, no less) about the vision for the performance she shares with JW3’s community programmer Eva Burke. The event will also include new translations of Brecht’s poetry, all performed by actor/singers Susanne Fiore and Peter Halpin, accompanied by pianist Ilan Lazarus. The evening culminates in a short ceremony led by Rabbi Roni Tabick and singer Aaron Isaac.
Bertolt Brecht’s The Jewish Wife runs Wednesday 11 April as part of JW3’s Yom Hasho’ah event. 7.30pm. £8. JW3, NW3 6ET. 020 7433 8988. www.jw3.org.uk
Click here to listen to a podcast by the event hosts, JMI, featuring an interview with both Katharina Reinthaller and Eva Burke.
As Watford Palace Theatre gets set to revive Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass, JR’s arts editor Judi Herman spoke to the team behind the production. The powerful play details the reactions of a New York Jewish family to the news of Kristallnacht coming out of Germany in November 1938 – a horrific night that sees its 80th anniversary this year. Listen in as Charlotte Emerson and Michael Matus, who play the couple at the heart of the play, read an extract recorded especially for JR OutLoud. Plus hear from the production’s director, Richard Beecham, and actor Clara Francis, who tells the moving story of how her great-grandparents were caught up in the violence of Kristallnacht.
“Tears are the juice of our souls”, declares Blueberry the Clown, demonstrating how squeezing a blueberry produces a tear-like drop. He’s born Isaac Solomon Loew, son of a proud, observant Prussian-Jewish immigrant to America’s Deep South. His mother tells him that in Hebrew his name means ‘he who laughs’. It seems it’s this nominative determinism that begins his journey towards becoming a whiteface Pierrot, first in the circus then in vaudeville on Broadway. It’s 1932 and the Depression is kicking in when he meets us, his audience, in his dressing room, after what he confides will be his last ever show. Perhaps Blueberry himself has taken one too many kicks, for you sense the tension behind his rueful smile early on. Still, things are upbeat as he starts to share his life story – and his basket of blueberries – with his public.
Going to Limmud Festival is always a source of wonderment: 2,500 delegates of all ages – from under one year old to over 90 – met at Pendigo Lake in Birmingham for the third year. Hundreds of sessions were given by an international cast of presenters, covering all aspects of Jewishness, from torah texts to issues of being Jewish in the fluid world we now inhabit. There were lots of opportunities to join in, whether in Mizrachi dancing or – new to this year – peopling the everyday story of country folk that is The Archers with Jewish characters. There was a great deal of fun with Eddie Grundy!
Jewish kids at the After School Club founded/run by Meketa, the British charity led by Sybil Sheridan and Hila Bram, in Gondar.
Being in Ethiopia, after dreaming of visiting the country for years, was wonderful. Being there in the company of 20 loquacious Londoners of various Jewish persuasions was even better: a journey of constant dialogue and learning. With Rabbi Sybil Sheridan of West London Synagogue and Abye Tilahun Lakew of local Jacaranda Tours as our guides, we saw vast stretches of the country’s north.
The eight-day tour of Andalusia in November 2017 was my fourth trip with Jewish Renaissance in the past six years. As in the previous three, I felt immediately at ease with the other members of the group who were friendly and whose outlook I shared.
Like all JR tours Andalusia was a combination of Jewish sites and historic places of interest. We were fortunate to be joined on our first two days in Seville by Moises Hassan, an eminent scholar of Jewish-Spanish history, who gave us a crash course. He told us about the place of the Jews, whose expulsion or murder by the Inquisition at the end of the 14th century ended Jewish presence in Spain. Today there are only 100 Jews in Seville and none at all in Cordoba, two significant pre-Inquisition Jewish communities.
As Israel Zangwill’s play is revived for the first time in 80 years in the UK, by Bitter Pill Theatre at the Finborough Theatre, Judi Herman finds out about the visionary writer and activist. He coined this evocative description of inclusivity for the title of a play that influenced President Theodore Roosevelt at its premiere in 1908. Judi spoke to actor Peter Marinker about the play and his own inclusive background, complete with tales of rabbis and nuns! He plays Zangwill himself, as well as both the uncle and prospective father-in-law of Jewish composer David Quixano, escaped from a massacre in a pogrom to the melting pot that is New York City. First we hear an extract especially recorded for JR OutLoud by Marinker and actor Steffan Cenydd, who plays David, a man in love with a beautiful Russian Christian called Vera, much to the consternation of his Uncle Mendel (Marinker).