Shut Down by Hurricane Sandy, Folksbiene’s “The Golden Land” Will Return to the Stage

December 18, 2012 4:48 pm 0 comments

The cast of The Golden Land. Photo: National Yiddish Theatre

In addition to the devastation caused to New York’s infrastructure by Superstorm Sandy–whole neighborhoods being leveled, more fortunate neighborhoods (only) losing power for days or weeks–there were other casualties. Take for example the cultural life of the city. Many of Chelsea’s art galleries were damaged or destroyed, concerts were cancelled, plays halted. Sure, lives weren’t upturned like they were in the Rockaways, but they were disrupted.

The National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene’s play The Golden Land illustrates this point perfectly. With a premiere set for October 28th, the show’s run fell at the most inopportune time. Nine of the shows were cancelled in what was only a limited five week run.

“We did one show in the afternoon on October 28th, and we had to cancel the evening show because the subways were already being turned off. So we lost something like 8 or 9 performances,” Zalmen Mlotek, co-creator of the play (along with Moishe Rosenfeld) and musical director for the current revival, tells The Algemeiner

Fortunately, due to popular demand, the show will relaunch for a short run of 10 shows from December 20th-30th at the Baruch Performing Arts Center.

“We’re hoping we’ll be able to re-energize the community and attract all those people who didn’t see it who wanted to, or meant to see it, and also those people who saw it and want to bring other people,” Mlotek says.

The play, which tells the story of the struggles of newly arrived immigrants in New York, first premiered in 1985. The revival, directed by Bryna Wasserman, has been getting rave reviews, with the Jewish Daily Forward proclaiming it “simply a rapturous musical that will capture your heart and likely your soul” and the New York Times declaring that it “will leave you twirling in the streets.”

“People are on their feet by the end. They’re crying, they’re laughing–it’s an emotional experience. It’s about the Jewish immigrant experience –and the American immigrant experience in general–so I think it’s really  piqued people’s interest because it’s such a universal story,” Daniella Rabbani, one the show’s stars, says.

At nearly one hundred years-old Folksbiene is the longest continuously producing Yiddish theater company in the world. It’s also the only professional company in the US that produces a full season from year-to-year. In other words, it’s not only a theater company but a record of Jewish history in the United States.

Zalmen Mlotek puts it rightly when he says: “Yiddish culture has been such an important part of the Jewish experience for the last 1,000 years, and because this was the lingua franca of Eastern European Jewry and it was the lingua franca of the American Jewish immigrant when they first came to this country wherever they settled–whether it was Galveston, Texas or Chicago or New York. Yiddish was the language, and they sang in Yiddish, and they performed in Yiddish. The songs, the language–it gives us, as contemporary Americans, such a window into who we were: who are grandparents were, who are great-grandparents were, what did they experience when they first came to this country and they couldn’t speak a language? What did it mean to have religious freedom, something that they never had before? ”

From an artistic standpoint the language also has relevance. “The authenticity that the language provides really plugs you into a totally different time period and a history that a lot of people don’t know very much about,”Rabbani says.

On Monday December 10th, the National Yiddish Theatre held their annual winter cabaret, in-and-of itself a celebration of the Yiddish language, which gave the actors of The Golden Land a chance to get in front of a crowd again ahead of their second run. The night was hosted by actor Ron Rifkin and featured performances from Elmore James and the cast of the Broadway-bound musical Soul Doctor.

James, the celebrated opera singer whose love of Paul Robeson lead him to Yiddish theater, has been performing with Folksbiene for over a decade. He puts the importance of Yiddish theater succinctly when he says, “You can see its influence all throughout theater today. We don’t call it Yiddish theater– but the Yiddish language, the Yiddish culture, the Jewish people–you can’t beat that.”

The Golden Land premieres (again) on Thursday December 20th. Buy your tickets here.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Ok, fans, question time. What do: Guns ‘n’ Roses shred-meister guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (aka Ronald Jay Blumenthal), “Hard Rock Hotel”, “Las Vegas” and Israel’s ”Hatikva” (The Hope) national anthem… all have in common? I know, you’re probably thinking, “Hmm, ‘One of these things is not like the other,’ would fit in here,” right? Um, no, turns out. Caught backstage by blogger Darren Garnick at the swanky Vegas gig in early June, Thal, acoustic guitar in hand, fretted out a sweetly melodic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs David Letterman’s Sidekick on His ‘Dream Job,’ Jewish Upbringing

    David Letterman’s Sidekick on His ‘Dream Job,’ Jewish Upbringing

    JNS.org – A Jewish upbringing taught Paul Shaffer, David Letterman’s musical director and sidekick for 32 years, the value of giving back. After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Shaffer served as musical director for “The Concert for New York City,” and in 2012 he accompanied Adam Sandler in “12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief,” a fundraiser for people affected by Hurricane Sandy. He was also the national spokesperson for Epilepsy Canada. “My mother taught by example,” Shaffer said in an [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.