Those who forget the past may be doomed to repeat it, and Jews and others strive to ensure that the Shoah does not disappear down the collective memory hole. Remembrance is one thing, but Helene Cixous raises another perplexing point in her poignant, aptly named drama “Oy,” now being performed in Los Angeles by The Actors’ Gang. Refugees Selma (Mary Eileen O’Donnell) and Jenny (Jeanette Horn) are octogenarian German Jewish sisters who, in 1995, are invited by the mayor of Osnabrück, the city where they grew up, to travel back to talk about the Holocaust to the younger generation.
When remembering the waves of Jewish immigration to early 20th-century America we usually conjure up images of Ellis Island and the Lower East Side. However, thanks to the Galveston Plan, some Eastern European Jews found themselves far from the Statue of Liberty, way down yonder in the land of cotton. Haskell Harelik may have landed at Hamilton, Texas, instead of Hester Street, Manhattan, but in 1909 this Russian refugee also sought the American Dream.
Actor Alan Mandell has portrayed Shakespeare’s Shylock, Prospero and Lear, and performed everywhere from Dublin’s Abbey Theatre to Broadway to the silver screen. One of his most notable recent roles was Rabbi Marshak in the Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man.” Mandell is currently playing Estragon in “Waiting for Godot” at LA’s Mark Taper Forum. He talked to The Arty Semite about Judaism, existentialism, and working with Samuel Beckett.
The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony is celebrating its 18th anniversary this year with a series of live performances, beginning with a March 31 concert at Valley Beth Shalom, in the San Fernando Valley. The “Istoria Judia — La Convivencia Musical” concert concentrated on Morocco’s Sephardic tradition and commemorated the 1492 expulsion of Jews from Spain. On June 23 LAJS is partnering for the fifth year with non-profit concert producer Kindred Spirits for a performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall to benefit the anti-genocide organization Jewish World Watch. LAJS’s anniversary finale takes place at Hollywood’s John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on August 26.
Oliver Stone talks about his new Showtime documentary series ‘The Untold History of the United States.’ He also takes on Newt Gingrich over his claim Palestinians are an ‘invented’ people.
Israel arguably has two indigenous peoples, and as Shakespeare wrote, “aye, there’s the rub.” This is the dilemma another bard, Stephanie Liss, explores in “On Holy Ground,” two one act plays that premiered November 18 at the The Met Theatre in Los Angeles. The first, “Daughter of My People,” stars Salome Jens as Henrietta Szold, a rabbi’s daughter born in 1860 Baltimore. Sitting onstage in a chair with Julie Simpson’s sparsely decorated set suggesting Jerusalem, Jens convincingly unfolds Szold’s saga. Frustrated in romance, Szold sublimates her love when she sails to the Holy Land. There, the Zionist is appalled by Jewish conditions in Ottoman-ruled Palestine. “The land of milk and honey was in everyone’s hands but the Jews,” she laments.
Film Still Courtesy of Music Box Films
Film still courtesy of Menemsha Films
Peter Van Norden, Adam Korson, Corryn Cummins and Jason Weiss in ‘God of Isaac.’ Photo by Michael Lamont.
The controversy surrounding “My Name is Rachel Corrie” has followed the play to Los Angeles. The one-woman show, starring Samara Frame as the 23-year-old American activist who was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003, opened this month at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, an outdoor theater space in Topanga Canyon.