The Playgoer: The Jewish King Lear

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Jewish King Lear

A terrific discussion by Stephen Greenblatt in the New Republic of Jacob Gordin's Yiddish Theatre Classic, The Jewish King Lear, just published in a newly translated edition.

It was a vehicle for Jacob Adler, and he played it hundreds of times from 1892 nearly up until his death in 1926. (At right, a poster from a 1898 engagement.) It became one of the old reliable warhorses of the "Golden Age of 2nd Avenue."

A fascinating theatre history article about immigrants in America, cultural adaptations of Shakespeare (this was hardly an ordinary translation), and what theatre can do for a community.


isaac butler said...

there's good discussion of Jews and Shakespeare adaptations in Stefan Kanfer's "Stardust Lost" a history of the yiddish theater in NYC. I, for one, really want to read the revisionist "Merchant of Venice" that made Adler's reputation as an actor.

Anonymous said...

There's an excellent book by Joel Berkowitz all about Yiddish Shakespeare. Also a section in Alisa Solomon's Re-Dressing the Canon.