New York’s Yiddish Theater tells the uniquely American and quintessentially New York story of the overcrowded and tenement filled Lower East Side’s evolution as an incubator of cultural activity that gave rise to a theater district rivaling Broadway itself. The exhibition will take viewers on a journey spanning over a century – from the waves of immigration by Eastern European Jews that preceded New York’s first Yiddish production in 1882, through contemporary adaptations from modern theater icons like Tony Kushner and Mandy Patinkin.
“New York’s Yiddish Theater was a beloved institution that helped shape performance art in America as we know it,” said Whitney Donhauser, Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum of the City of New York. “The story of how a thriving immigrant community’s local entertainment source blossomed into such an influential and widespread phenomenon is an inspiring example of New York City’s unmatched ability to incubate and celebrate creativity. We look forward to welcoming visitors and sharing the exciting story of New York’s Yiddish Theater – from its beginnings on the Bowery to its influence on Broadway, and finally now, on our walls in East Harlem.”
New York’s Yiddish Theater was guest curated by EDNA NAHSHON. Nahshon on the faculty of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, has recently been appointed a Visiting Skirball Fellow at Oxford University. She specializes in the field of Jewish performance studies and has written extensively on Yiddish theatre. Her work has appeared in, among other places, American National Biography, The Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East, Jewish American History, and Di Froyen: Women and Yiddish.
Images courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York
Mitchel Cohen currently lives in Brooklyn. He is a member of the Brooklyn Greens/Green Party, and for many years made his living (such as it is) selling his poems in the subways. He was a founding member of the Red Balloon Collective and its “poetry conspiracy” at Suny Stony Brook in 1969 and edited its journal through the decades. Cohen was one of the “Liberty Bell 7,” arrested for demanding freedom for political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier. He co-founded and coordinates the No Spray Coalition against toxic pesticides, works with NY State Against Genetic Engineering, formerly chaired WBAI Local Station Board (99.5 FM), and broadcasts a weekly internet radio show, “Steal This Radio” athttp://www.nytalkradio.net.
Audio segment was done by Mitchel Cohen with Marilyn Berkon.