I Love/Hate Jewish Time!

So there’s this thing called Jewish Time, which is also called being late. In true NYRT style, we observed Jewish Time while prepping for Sunday’s matinee, opening the house a mere 5 minutes before our scheduled show start time. The (amazing) director was working with the actors up until the last moment. 

As far as the audience was concerned, this delay really let the antici…………………………


……………..…………….pation build. They all came into the theater in a big burst, whereas usually it’s more of a casual meander. It was pretty exciting.

As far as everyone backstage was concerned, lets just say it was a bit more stressful…

And somehow we still started the show within-ish the realm of on time? (See the amazement I express in my last post.)

All of the last minute work ended up really paying off. It was a great show (in my humble opinion). Dialogue ran more naturally than it had in the past couple shows. It seemed like the actors slowed down a little bit and were really listening to each other onstage. 

After the show, we had a little celebration. There was chocolate. It was the kind with the hazelnut stuff in the middle. I was happy.

So. Back to Jewish Time. My feelings on this topic are… complex.

In a slide:

On the one hand, it’s terrible. You can never expect anything to start less than 15 minutes late (and that’s being generous). So, if you’re the kind of person who tries to get places on time (me), you end up doing a lot of waiting (for Godot, heheh). 

On the other hand, it’s wonderful. If you’re the kind of person who, despite trying, can never seem to get anywhere less than 15 minutes late (me), join the club. No one minds, or even really notices. I realized this sometime last week, when in response to my profuse (and almost daily… like this blog) apology, I was told to:

“Relax. If you haven’t noticed yet, we run on Jewish Time.”

All of this to say, I was thankful for Jewish Time yesterday, when I accidentally walked down the wrong street (don’t ask… I really…), and spent an embarrassingly long time pacing 38th street wondering where in the world 315 39th street had disappeared to.

After eventually realizing my mistake (emphasis on eventually), I finally made it to my meeting with D**** to talk about the puppet shows. 

It was a great meeting and I got some really good feedback! He liked my puppet song and dance piece (which I showed him on a whim at the last moment) more than the shadow puppet show, so I think that’s where I’ll be putting most of my energy now. I do want to continue working on the shadow puppet show, but that might end up becoming more of a long term project. 

Some feedback highlights for the shadow puppet show:

  • I over estimated how much yiddish non-yiddish speaking kids can soak up.
  • Too many characters.
  • Should simplify the story. 
  • Repetition is key.
  • Get interactive.
  • Make the yiddish words the kind of words kids are already excited about (like cats!!)
  • Read some more children’s books to get a better feel for story structure.
  • I should do a shadow puppet making workshop for the kids after the show!

Some feedback highlights for the song and dance show:

  • Yeah, this one is better.

After the meeting, D**** and I talked for a while about life, and I went on my way.

Today has been a bit of a relaxed day for me. I think it might be my first day off-ish since I started. I’ve been mostly thinking about the new track for the puppet shows, writing this, and…

Working on one of my plays to be read tomorrow at the NYRT!! I’m very excited for the opportunity. I’m also very nervous generally about the quality of the play. 

Well…We shall see!!

Biz bald.

Oh wait!

NOTE: I realized part way through this post that I don’t know if I’m allowed to use other people’s names on here or not. I’ll figure that out.

Okay. Now, biz bald.

Reflecting on Jan. 4 and 5

Gut morgn! Ruby here, checking in with my second blog post!

Though I originally planned on making this a daily blog, I’ve decided to combine my reflections from the last two days. I made this decision after realizing that, in terms of my schedule, they were structurally very similar.

So, for your sake and mine, let it be a daily-ish blog!

I’ve spent my last two mornings/afternoons working on a first draft of a puppet show, aimed at introducing young kids to the yiddish language. So far, this has been a wild process, full of a lot of discovery.

I was told that I could do anything with this puppet show. Follow any instincts. Use my imagination. This has made the process really exciting. I am also plagued by the fear, however, that my imagination will lead me in a totally terrible and wrong direction. We shall see! If not wrong, it is definitely leading me in a different direction than I thought it would.

My original plan was to write a hand puppet adaptation of a delightful Boris Sandler story about a young elephant… Much to my surprise, by the end of yesterday, I had a working draft of a shadow puppet adaptation of a Moyshe Kulbak story about the wind. I’m having a meeting to check in about my work tomorrow. I’ll let you, all my many dedicated readers who I definitely have (mom), know how it goes.

Oooh! I almost forgot! I also wrote a first draft of a fun, educational, yiddish/english puppet song and dance number recently… We’ll see where that goes.

NOTE: It’s been amazing seeing how many of the younger members of NYRT are interested in musical theater. Everyone is starting to create their own work (!!!), and I get the feeling that 1) there’s about to be a lot of new, diverse yiddish work being put out there, and 2) song, dance, and musical theater will definitely be playing a role.

The last two nights have also been the final two previews (ah!!) before Vartn af Godot opens (today!! ah!!). The show has really come together in the last couple weeks. Everyone seems solid in their roles, both on and off stage.

It is really astounding how many barriers have been overcome to get to this place. From an actor having to step in and memorize all of his lines and blocking with only about two days to previews, to me (a beginner yiddish student) being placed in said actor’s prior position working the supertitles, to an actor needing to learn a crazy long, partially gibberish monologue in a language he didn’t know, to an actor accidentally falling asleep on the subway and almost getting to a show late, to an actor starting to get sick (we don’t have crazy things like understudies), to the fact that everyone has about 10 opinions about how the show should go which often contradict both each other and everyone else’s 10,000 opinions (I feel there’s a Jew joke to be made here…), there are a lot of places where this show could have totally fallen apart.

And yet, somehow, this theater really knows how to get things done. The people who make up this theater know how to get things done. There could be a full reality TV show about the conversations that happen back stage, but at the same time, everyone has an ability to (as my wonderful high school theater director would say…) make it happen.

In two supertitle slides:

With that, I’m off to do some writing…

…And then off to the theater for Vartn af Godot’s OPENING MATINEE!!!!

Biz bald.

Ruby’s first post!

Hi there! My name is Ruby Lowenstein and I’m currently an intern at the New Yiddish Rep. I’ll be using this blog as a diary of sorts, to talk about my experiences and observations of day-to-day life at NYRT… Or other stuff! Maybe I’ll even throw in a few questions… If nothing else, I can definitely assure you that I will be figuring it out as I go along!

First! A little bit about me… I am originally from Ann Arbor MI, but am currently a sophomore at Bennington College, in Bennington VT. I primarily study theater with a focus on playwriting. I am also really interested in ceramics, cognitive science, standup comedy, and spending large amounts of my time thinking about the concept of the Golem.

Why yiddish theater? A lot of reasons! One of my grandmothers speaks yiddish, so it has always been a language I felt connected to… but also didn’t actually know at all. I first formally became interested in Yiddish last year when I took my first playwriting class. I found that many of the characters I wanted to explore spoke yiddish. They couldn’t do it if I couldn’t, so after a few embarrassing experiences with Google Translate, I decided I had to learn. This led me to spend 7 super transformative weeks studying yiddish as part of the 2018 Steiner Summer Yiddish Program at the Yiddish Book Center. This experience not only strengthened my interest and commitment to yiddish language and culture, but fostered an interest in the art of translation and introduced me to an awe inspiring group of teachers and fellow students. Stay tuned for a more in depth post at some point about my experience at Steiner!

So what am I doing here? Bennington has a winter internship period called Field Work Term (FWT). Last year I spent my FWT as an intern for the wonderful Puppet Showplace Theatre in Brookline, MA. This year, I’m spending it here! I’ve been at NYRT for a couple weeks so far, during which I have spent the majority of my time distressing costume and prop pieces (surprisingly meditative…), running around doing miscellaneous errands (for example: I spent part of an afternoon at Petopia attempting to stuff large, differently shaped bags of kitty litter into a burlap sack.*), running lines with actors (very fun for me, not as fun for them…), attending acting and writing workshops at NYRT (yay!!), and editing, re-editing, formatting, re-formatting, and operating the supertitles for Waiting for Godot (I’ve gotten to know this show very well.). Now that tech for the show has mostly smoothed out, I’m beginning to develop a series of children’s puppet shows in a mixture of english and yiddish. I’m really excited for whatever those end up becoming!

Okay, that feels like enough exposition…

To finish off my first post, I’d like to briefly reflect on yesterday’s show: it was great, other than the fact that I really had to sneeze the whole time. Yes, the full two and a half hours. To sum it up in a single slide of Waiting for Godot supertitles (which I now eat, sleep, and breath)…

*I found the perfect kitty litter. Come to Waiting for Godot to see what it’s become.