London

In conversation: Barry Humphries

Aussie performers Barry Humphries and Meow Meow discuss their show, Weimar Cabaret

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As Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret prepares for take-off at the Barbican next week, Judi Herman speaks to the stars of the show. Australian actor, artist and comedian (you may well recognise him as Dame Edna Everage) Humphries and fellow Aussie – cabaret performer Melissa Madden Gray, who’s best known as Meow Meow. The pair discuss their passion for the raucous jazz of 1920s/30s Berlin – the backbone of the musical – and the composers and lyricists who were deemed ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis. They also talk about the music’s influence on the Australian, European and American music scenes and Humphries reveals why he gravitated towards Jewish boys at school.

Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret runs Wednesday 11 – Sunday 29 July. 7.45pm, 2.30pm (Wed & Sat exc. 11 Jul), 3pm (Sun only) £19-£75. Barbican Theatre, EC2Y 8DS. www.barbican.org.uk

Read our review of Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret on the JR blog.

In conversation: Debbie Chazen

Debbie Chazen, the only Jewish Calendar Girl, talks about her new musical The Girls

First it was a play, then a film and now Calendar Girls has been made into a musical – already nominated for several Olivier Awards – with book and lyrics by Tim Firth, who wrote the play and co-wrote the film script (with Juliette Towhidi), and music by Gary Barlow.
The Girls tells the true story of members of a Yorkshire branch of the Women’s Institute who had the idea of assembling a nude calendar to raise money for Leukaemia Research, when the husband of one of the girls became ill and died from the disease.

As all the girls of the title are nominated jointly for an Olivier Award, Judi Herman singled out Debbie Chazen (pictured, second from left), who has the distinction of being the only Jewish girl, as well as being the only one who appeared in the original stage play.

The Girls runs until Saturday 15 July. 7.30pm (Mon-Sat), 2.30pm (Thu & Sat only). £29.50-£69.50. Phoenix Theatre, WC2H 0JP. 0844 871 7627. www.phoenixtheatrelondon.co.uk

Audio tour: Shaping Ceramics

Listen to a guided audio tour of the Jewish Museum’s exhibition Shaping Ceramics with artist Janet Haig

Janet Haig is one of the ceramicists whose pieces, as well as a film showing how she works, are featured in Shaping Ceramics at the Jewish Museum London. The exhibition explores the work of pioneering ceramicists, tracing their influence on subsequent generations of ceramic artists whose Jewish heritage has shaped their work. Polish-born artist Haig joins JR's arts editor Judi Herman here for a very personal tour of the exhibition, discussing the experiences that have moulded her work: from the hardships of the war years in a Siberian prison camp with her mother, to her formative childhood in Australia (where she studied painting) after they discovered that their closest family had perished in the Holocaust, to her arrival in the UK in 1962 and work teaching in a boys’ school.

Haig reveals that her first inspiration might go back as far as those harsh days in Siberia: “My mother was able to take one object with her [to Siberia] and she suddenly saw this little pot (I still have it in my possession), which she grabbed hold of because, as I was a baby, she thought it would be useful to warm things up. It’s enamel, blue on the outside, white on the inside and maybe that has had some kind of inspiration on my pots.”

Shaping Ceramics: From Lucie Rie to Edmund de Waal runs until Sunday 26 February, at Jewish Museum, NW1 7NB. 020 7284 7384. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk

Watch ceramic artist Janet Haig demonstrate the ancient pottery-making technique of hand building on Monday 23 January, 11.30am-12.30pm, £7.50, £6.50 concs, at Jewish Museum, NW1 7NB. 020 7284 7384. 

Read more about key artists in the exhibition in the January 2017 issue of Jewish Renaissance.

In conversation: Samantha Ellis

Writer Samantha Ellis talks about how to write a romantic comedy for the 21st century

Nick Rutter

Nick Rutter

Samantha Ellis’s play How to Date a Feminist is currently on at Arcola Theatre. Her heroine is Kate, a journalist who happens to be Jewish. She also happens to have a fatal attraction to bad men. Her hero is Steve, a feminist who happens to be a man. His mum brought him up at the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, her dad is an Israeli brought up in a refugee camp. With these characters Ellis explores love in the 21st century. Samantha talks about her influences, including vintage screwball Hollywood comedies, her own background, growing up in London with Iraqi Jewish parents, and her other plays and books.

How to Date a Feminist runs until Saturday 1 October, 8pm & 3.30pm, £17, £14 concs, at the Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin St, E8 3DL; 020 7503 1646. www.arcolatheatre.com

Audio tour: Moses, Mods and Mr Fish

Moses, Mods and Mr Fish: A guided audio tour of the Jewish Museum's new exhibition

An audio tour of the London Jewish Museum’s new exhibition, Moses, Mods and Mr Fish: The Menswear Revolution, charting the emergence of the modern male wardrobe. Join Judi Herman on an exclusive journey guided by curator Elizabeth Selby from the tailoring workshops of the mid-19th century to the boutique revolution and mod culture of the Swinging ‘60s. The exhibition tells the story through the huge number of Jewish companies at the forefront of the major developments and changes in the design, manufacturing and retail of men’s clothing from the mid-19th to late-20th century. Among the highlights are the clothes themselves – including the brown suede jacket worn by John Lennon during the recording of The Beatles’ 1963 album, With the Beatles. Judi rounds off her visit by sharing a rather special early ad for Moses and Son Menswear.

Moses, Mods and Mr Fish: The Menswear Revolution runs until 19 June at Jewish Museum, 129-131 Albert St, NW1 7NB; 020 7284 7384. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk