CHICAGO – ShPIeL Performing Identity – a theatre and performance incubator and producer based jointly in Chicago and Louisville, Kentucky – will present TEATRON: Chicago’s Jewish Theatre Festival from Sunday, November 3 – Sunday, November 10, 2019 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. The eight-day festival dedicated to Jewish theatre, the first-ever in Chicago, will be presented in conjunction with and will overlap the annual Alliance for Jewish Theatre Conference, hosted by ShPIeL at Victory Gardens Theater and The Theatre School at DePaul University from November 1-3, 2019. (FOR CONFERENCE REGISTRATION AND SCHEDULE visit alljewishtheatre.org). ShPIeL Producing Artistic Director David Y. Chack today announced the festival lineup, which will include staged readings, solo performances, storytelling, cabaret, and comedy.
A signature presentation is THE BEN HECHT SHOW with Chicago and playwright and actor James Sherman in his original solo play Wednesday November 6 at 7:30pm. A marquee event is OPERETTA IN EXILE: THE MUSIC SILENCED BY THE THIRD REICH, a concert by Folks Operetta on Sunday November 10 at 2pm. Tickets will be available through Victory Gardens Theater Box Office, online at www.victorygardens.org and by phone at 773-871-3000. Tickets to OPERETTA IN EXILE are $36. Other events are $24 or $18 for students and free with a DePaul ID. There is also a $118 festival pass which offers one admission to each festival event (not including the November 10 matinee at 2pm.)
Leading off the festival on Sunday, November 3, will be a staged reading of THE GREEN BOOK by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, directed by Ilesa Duncan, Artistic Director of Lifeline Theatre and Executive and Artistic Director of Pegasus Theatre Chicago. THE GREEN BOOK, recently seen in Chicago in a co-production by Pegasus and ShPIeL (unrelated to the 2018 feature film), tells the story of how Victor Hugo Green’s THE NEGRO MOTORIST GREEN BOOK, a travel guide published from 1936 to 1966, was an essential tool and an important part of Black Culture during the era of Jim Crow “separate but equal” laws. One weekend when an African-American family is celebrating the arrival of the great scholar Dr. W.E.B. DuBois for a lecture, the appearance of a Jewish Holocaust survivor sets off a chain of events that shows that racism and anti-Semitism cannot be ignored. THE GREEN BOOK will be performed on Sunday, November 3 at 7:30 pm at Victory Gardens Theater.
Curated by the Alliance for Jewish Theatre, the festival will continue on Monday, November 4 at 8pm with A SHOWCASE OF NEW JEWISH THEATRE FROM ALL OVER. The showcase will be staged readings of new plays as well as solo performances of Jewish heritage. (SEE alljewishtheatre.org for schedule when posted).
TEATRON will continue at the conference’s closing, for six more festive days on Tuesday, November 5 at 7:30 pm with JEWISH STORYTELLING DELIGHT, featuring Susan Stone, Vered Hankin and others. Stone and Hankin tell stories in the style of the “mayse” or a traditional Yiddish tale, which often imparts meaning or makes fun, commenting on itself and its characters, as it uses talmudic circular reasoning. See shpielperformingidentity.org for the up to date JEWISH STORYTELLING DELIGHT schedule.
Chicago playwright and actor James Sherman will return to Chicago with his original solo play THE BEN HECHT SHOW after touring it throughout the country. The play depicts the life of the legendary playwright/screenwriter (THE FRONT PAGE, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, GONE WITH THE WIND) who was raised in an assimilated Jewish upbringing but became an important Jewish-American voice. Hecht, the first American journalist to write about the Nazi atrocities during World War Two, risked his own career to aid the Zionists in the creation of Israel. Using Hecht’s own words, Sherman portrays his amazing story of Jewish consciousness and social activism. THE BEN HECHT SHOW will perform on Wednesday, November 6 at 7:30pm.
The following night, on Thursday, November 7 at 7:30 pm, the Chicago Cabaret Professionals’ Gold Coast Honoree, Carla Gordon; with Rebecca Joy Fletcher, known for Jewish Cabaret from around the world, will perform CABARET – JEWISH STYLE. Annie Reznik, an emerging musical theatre artist from The Theatre School at DePaul will join the evening with Yiddish songs, as well as songs from Broadway shows.
A special performative Shabbat will take place on Friday, November 8 at 7:30pm.
On Saturday, November 9 at 7pm there will be a staged reading of GOD OF VENGEANCE, the 1906 play by Polish-Jewish Playwright Sholom Asch which is the subject of Paula Vogel’s recent Broadway and Victory Gardens recent hit play INDECENT. The Saturday evening performances will conclude with a late-night show — JEWISH COMEDY NIGHT, featuring Jeremy Drezner, Lia Berma, and others, and hosted by Evan Richter, at 10pm.
On Sunday, November 10 TEATRON will join in solidarity with the world to memorialize the Kristallnacht Pogrom (seen as the lead-up to the Holocaust, with the widespread state sanctioned destruction of over 260 synagogues and Jewish owned businesses in Nazi German, Austria and Czechoslovakia). We will also remember the murder of innocent Jewish lives in the massacre by a White Supremacist at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018.
To that end, at 2pm Sunday, November 19 Folks Operetta will showcase OPERETTA IN EXILE: THE MUSIC SILENCED BT THE THIRD REICH, This multi-media concert explores the world of librettists and composers who either perished or were forced into exile by the Nazis, and features songs from operettas by Leo Ascher, Emmerich Kálmán, Jean Gilbert, Paul Abrahám, Robert Stolz, Franz Lehár, and Leon Jessel. The concert features a narrator, five singers, a small chamber ensemble and images from Jewish artists during the Second World War.
The closing event of the festival on Sunday, November 10 at 7pm will be FEATURING DANIEL CAINER – a performance by England’s Daniel Cainer, known for his one-man musical show GEFILTE FISH AND CHIPS. Described as the more Jewish version of Allan Sherman the songwriter satirist, Cainer is an award-winning songwriter, storyteller, performer, broadcaster and several other words ending in ‘er’.
All festival performances will be at Victory Gardens Theater. Tickets will be available through Victory Gardens Theater Box Office, online at www.victorygardens.org and by phone at 773-871-3000. Tickets to OPERETTA IN EXILE are $36. Other events are $24 or $18 for students and free with a DePaul ID. There is also a $118 festival pass which offers one admission to each festival event (not including the November 10 matinee at 2pm.)
TEATRON: CHICAGO’S JEWISH THEATRE FESTIVAL at a GLANCE
All performances at Victory Gardens Theater, 2453 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
Sunday, November 3, 2019 – 7:30 pm
Staged reading of THE GREEN BOOK, by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, directed by ILesa Duncan
Monday, November 4, 2019 – 8pm
A SHOWCASE OF NEW JEWISH THEATRE FROM ALL OVER, curated by the Alliance for Jewish Theatre
Tuesday, November 5, 2019 – 7:30 pm
JEWISH STORYTELLING DELIGHT, featuring Susan Stone, Vered Hankin and more in formation. Check shpielperformingidentity.org
Wednesday, November 6, 2019 – 7:30 pm
THE BEN HECHT SHOW, written and performed by James Sherman
Thursday, November 7 – 7:30 pm
CABARET – JEWISH STYLE, featuring Carla Gordon, Rebecca Joy Fletcher, and Annie Reznik
Friday, November 8 – 7:30 pm
Special performative Shabbat
Saturday, November 9 – 7pm
Staged reading of GOD OF VENGEANCE by Sholom Asch, directed by David Y. Chack
Saturday, November 9 – 10PM
JEWISH COMEDY NIGHT, an evening of stand up and improv hosted by Evan Richter featuring Jeremy Drezner, Lia Berma and others
Sunday November 10 — 2pm
OPERETTA IN EXILE: THE MUSIC SILENCED BY THE THIRD REICH by Folks Operetta a multi-media concert featuring songs from operettas by Leo Ascher, Emmerich Kálmán, Jean Gilbert, Paul Abrahám, Robert Stolz, Franz Lehár, and Leon Jessel
Sunday, November 10 – 7pm
FEATURING DANIEL CAINER – a performance by England’s Daniel Cainer, known for his one-man musical show GEFILTE FISH AND CHIPS
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE FOR JEWISH THEATRE CONFERENCE
The Alliance for Jewish Theatre, founded in 1979, has been holding annual conferences and occasional festivals, since 1980. The 2019 Conference, hosted by ShPIeL, and held at Victory Gardens Theater and the DePaul University Music School, will include seminars, symposia, workshops – both discussion and theatrically hands-on – and performances.
The conference will honor Mike Nussbaum “Mr. Chicago Theatre” and Steve Miller, Chair of the Victory Garden’s Board, at the banquet to be held at DePaul University the evening of Monday, November 4. Acclaimed actor Mike Nussbaum will receive the Theodore Bikel Award for Excellence in Theatre. Aimee Ginsburg Bikel, Theo’s wife, will present the award in his memory. Steve Miller, founding partner of Origin Ventures, will receive the Special
Distinction Award for his support of Jewish Theatre. In year’s past these honors have been given to Theodore Bikel (receiving the first “Theo”), Tovah Feldshuh, Kimberly Senior, Adam Kantor, Ed Asner, Emily Mann, Andy White and others.
The conference, which attracts upwards of 100+ attendees over its three days, is open to theatremakers of all kinds (playwrights, directors, producers, actors) who do Jewish inflected theatre from all contexts. The complete schedule and additional information about the conference are available at https://alljewishtheatre.org/conference/
ABOUT SHPIEL PERFORMING IDENTITY
Founded in 2010, ShPIel is a theatre and performance catalyst, incubator and producer from a Jewish root for today’s transcultural world. It is an educational center and a deep process through identity that leads to production. Some of ShPIel’s recent productions have been THE GREEN BOOK (Chicago, Louisville), and A JEWISH JOKE (Chicago, Louisville, New York City). The name ShPIeL comes from the Yiddish word for “play” – to discover the play in identity and the identity in the play. The ShPieL website will have changes to the TEATRON schedule on its website shpielperformingidentity.org