The Surrealist art movement aimed to liberate its practitioners and audience. It is no wonder, then, that it appealed to Jews who fled Europe in search of freedom.
Above all else, Los Angeles is a performer’s town. In addition to film, television, reality and theater stars, America’s second largest city now boasts a growing number of performance artists. Whether in galleries, nightclubs, street corners or living rooms, LA-based performance artists have been creating a stir in the City of Angels.
The Skirball Center, a sober cultural institution on Los Angeles’s ritzy Westside, was unusually alive on January 27. Music journalists, record executives and South American diplomats with an array of Spanish accents — from Argentina to Spain to East Los Angeles — bounced about the room. Along with the requisite contingent of L.A. yentas and Hollywood types, the event brought out an eclectic crowd.
Charles Fox, composer of more than 100 film and TV scores including “Happy Days,” “Wonder Woman” and “The Love Boat,” has always had a unique attachment to Poland. On the one hand, it’s a country that produced one of his favorite composers, Chopin. And on the other hand, his father’s entire family was murdered there during the Holocaust.
Orto-Da, an experimental theater group based in Tel Aviv, arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport irritable and exhausted. Delayed because of a visa battle that left their lighting technician stranded in Israel, the troupe members collected their baggage and raced to the Carlson Family Theatre in Calabasas, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb, to begin rehearsing their latest play, “Stones,” with a local lighting guy. Orto-Da’s much anticipated American debut at the California International Theatre Festival, was in less than 48 hours, and it was off to a very shaky start.
‘I do a lot of things,” Claude Berger said as he slipped into his restaurant’s kitchen for a glass of red wine. “I’m a writer, I play the flute and I’m a singer. I used to own another Yiddish restaurant before Le Train de Vie. But it closed.” He poured the wine, then paused. “And oh,” he suddenly remembered, “I’m also a dentist.”
It’s Passover time, and a heady mix of liberation, freedom and matzah fills the air. While we recount the tale of the Children of Israel’s escape from Egypt, a strange inversion of this story unfolds in France. In this nightmare exodus, the Israelite (a non-Jewish klezmer clarinetist) flees Egypt (Moldova) and makes it to the Promised Land (France), only to face expulsion a decade later.
Budapest’s crumbling VII district is like a noir film. Except for a few frothing drunks, the former Jewish ghetto is now a ghost town. Only the slot machines in the Roma, or Gypsy, bars cut the blackness. Below the burnt-out street lamps or within the abandoned buildings, some clandestine act is waiting to unfold. And clandestine action was exactly what I was looking for in the Pearl of the Danube.