Yiddish Troupe Battle Royale
Two Jewish theater companies, three opinions
There is an upstart Yiddish theater company on the East Side, and it has ruffled the feathers of the much more established Yiddish theater company. What, you should be surprised by this?
The New York Times has the story. You have the Folksbiene group, which has been around for almost a century, and still insists, to some extent, on doing things the old-fashioned way—the old productions, acting troupes dominated by big burly men with big burly beards. And you have the upstart New Yiddish Repertory Company, which started only two years ago, and does things clearly outside the purview of traditional Yiddish companies. There has been talk of Folksbiene taking New Yiddish Rep under its wing; negotiations are mediated in part by Jack Lebewohl, the owner of the Second Avenue Deli. Of course, that’s now on Third Avenue in Murray Hill, which is as good a commentary on the evolution of old Lower East Side culture as you could find.
One of New Yiddish Rep’s productions is The Big Bupkis, the one-man-show from non-Jewish Yiddo-phile Shane Baker. Marissa Brostoff profiled him for Tablet Magazine a few months ago.