The current rise of antisemitism is suddenly getting stage time. Last week: “Witness,” which explored the doomed 1939 voyage of the German Jewish refugees aboard the St. Louis and explored what’s happening today; This week, opening on Thursday, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, “The Garden of the Finzi Continis,” Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie’s new opera adapting Giorgio Bassani’s semi-autobiographical novel (which also became an Oscar-winning film) about an upper-class Jewish family in fascist Italy who eventually suffer from the anti-Jewish laws under Mussolini. A week from today, the opening of “Prayer for the French Republic,” a new play by Joshua Harmon at MTC that tells the story of a contemporary Jewish family who has lived for many generations in France but now asks themselves the same question their relatives asked during World War II: Are they safe?
I realized how unusual the explicit treatment of antisemitism on stage these days when a character in “Witness,” which was produced by the Boston-based company Arlekin Players Theater, observes:
“The Boston theatre scene has been absolutely fabulous about being very proactive when there’s an injustice. Land acknowledgements, Black Lives Matter, stopping Asian violence. And it’s been great, and that’s one of the reasons I love the Boston theatre scene. But then, I was really sort of waiting for them to make this statement, ‘We also condemn antisemitism that is literally happening in our own backyard.’ But it never came…”
Could this be said about New York theater as well?
The Week in Reviews
In “Addressless,” the audience helps three characters navigate the tricky path to getting an affordable apartment in New York City. This is a daunting challenge for anyone. But it’s a dangerous game – a series of life-or-death choices — for Josie, Wallace and Louis, who have no permanent address.
In “Reopening: The Broadway Revival,” an hour-long documentary on PBS that’s a bit painful and embarrassing to watch, actor Andrew Rannells compares the start of the shutdown of Broadway in 2020 to the end of “Fiddler on the Roof”: “Everybody kind of scattered…it was like ‘Maybe see you in the new country. I don’t know when we’re coming back.’” But if the pandemic resembled a form of entertainment, it wouldn’t be a Broadway musical. It would be a tiresome TV series that should have been canceled ages ago.
The episode of “Great Performances,” which premiered on Tuesday night (and is now available online) with NY-1 theater reporter Frank DiLella as host, follows a narrative arc that is so out of sync with reality these days that PBS has attached a title card explaining that the show “was produced in the Fall of 2021” and “is not reflective of current developments in the COVID-19 pandemic.”
But was it ever reflective of reality?
The Week in Theater News
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed an expansion and extension of the New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit, which provides up to $3 million per show to help defray production costs. Introduced by former Governor Cuomo and capped at $100 million, the credit will now be budgeted $200 million, and the application deadline extended from December 31, 2022 to June 30, 2023. (NYTimes)
“Performing Arts Reps Warn House Hearing Not To Let “Creative Infrastructure Of Our Economy Vanish” As Covid Continues But Aid Doesn’t” (Deadline)
James Snyder, the actor playing Harry Potter, has been fired from the Broadway production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” following a complaint about his conduct by Diane Davis, his co-star, who portrayed Ginny Potter. Davis has taken a leave of absence. Snyder took over the role of the wizard, now an adult, for Tony nominee Jamie Parker in the role. It was his fourth role on Broadway, (Hollywood Reporter.)
“One of the things I remain interested in is figuring out ways in which we make theater more accessible, and it’s not just about making tickets cheaper. That’s not purely what accessibility is. It’s also unpacking ways in which theater breaks down barriers, and also interrogating the notion of whether theater has to be in a box.” — Lynn Nottage, commenting on the simulcasting of “Clyde’s,” about formerly incarcerated characters, to detainees on Rikers Island (Washington Post) (My reviews of the play and of the simulcast)
Pete Davidson and Colin Jost, both natives of Staten Island and cast members of Saturday Night Live, were among a group of New Yorkers who paid $280,000 to buy a 57-year-old, decommissioned Staten Island Ferry, the John F. Kennedy, in hopes of turning it into “an arts and entertainment venue.”
Belated birthday to Moliere, the stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, who was born on January 15, 400 years ago, six years after Shakespeare died. Among his bon-mots: “Life is a tragedy to those who feel and a comedy to those who think.” Oddly, the French government had rejected the transference of his remains to the Pantheon, the site of notables ranging from Victor Hugo to Josephine Baker. (Slate tries to explain.)
I want you, I need you
But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you
Now don’t be sad
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad —
One of the best-known lyrics sung by Meat Loaf, born Marvin Lee Aday (Sep 27, 1947-Jan 20, 2022.)
He was a rock star and actor. He was also a veteran of Broadway veteran — acting in two hits, “Hair,” and “Rocky Horror Show,” and one…not: “Rockabye Hamlet.” But two out of three ain’t bad.