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Theater for every taste, Yiddish /Wongo-ish..It’s all Fun

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Talk about diversity. New York is certainly the land of plenty. Just this week alone, I spent time in an Irish/Yiddish world and the next day was transported by intergalactic forces to the Planet Wongo. All this for a subway token.

The Bespoke Overcoat

The Bespoke Overcoat

Wolf Mankowitz, British/Jewish polyglot is being represented by New Yiddish Rep at the Cell Theatre on West 23rd Street. In two one-act plays “2 by Wolf,” we get a sampling from the prolific pen of Mankowitz. “The Irish Hebrew Lesson” perhaps the only tri-lingual play of its kind written in English, Irish and Yiddish, is followed by “The Bespoke Overcoat,” performed in a Yiddish. (Supertitles are used in the latter play.) The director is Romanian Moshe Yassur, who has had a long career as actor/director here and in Israel.
The Irish Hebrew Lesson pits a religious Jew with a penchant for languages next to a young Irish rebel, hoping to rid Ireland of the British as St. did with the snakes. The rebel is too young to realize the fragility of life and so the older man takes the opportunity to protect the boy and himself by teaching him a little Hebrew and a little philosophy. That the rebel shares the same anti-Semitic joke that the interrogating English soldiers do is just another reminder of the how the pecking order of prejudice works.
The second play is about labor, money and the need to stay warm; as well as the need for dignity, even after death. A tailor negotiates with a poor man to make him a new, warm coat, but (at least as I understood), he only truly offers after he has heard the man died. That it takes a ghost to readdress charity makes sense…you don’t know what you’ve lost till it’s gone. The ghost suffers like all poor but in the end (or in the afterlife) takes his retribution from the greedy employer while the tailor relies on his schnapps to make sense of his own life.
Both plays are beautifully acted by Menachem Fox, Stuart Cullen, Lev Herskovitz, Ilan Kwittken, Shane Baker and Fergal O’Hanlon. Mr. Baker was also the translator. Show runs till July 2.



From Yiddishkeit to Wongolite…composer Dave Ogrin has taken his wonderful Wild Women of Planet Wongo which originally was presented in a classic theatrical setting and moved it to the outer galaxy of Bushwick for a cosmic immersive experience in space. With the feel of a 60’s B movie, two astronauts, delivering CheesyMoon Crater Chips to hungry space stations, find themselves after three long years on a planet in habited only by women. Though hesitant at first, the captain finally joins his crewmate in tasting the delicacies of the Wongo Flesh, in his case, the Queen. But sex isn’t the only thing the Wongettes have in mind…they are also starved –and have very different plans for their male guests.
It’s great fun to interact with the Amazonian Wongo girls and drink Wongotini’s made fresh at the Brooklyn Fireproof bar. The book by Steve Mackes, lyrics by Ben Budick, Steve Mackes, and Dave Ogrin is witty, sexy and very feel good. (The Wongotinis help with that, too). The cast of young singer dancers is joyful and lovingly directed by David Rigano. Musical director is Rachel Dean with choreography by Juson Williams.
The show runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday until July 4, with a Wongo dance party after the late show on weekends. If you can’t get to Joshua Tree this summer to make contact with the aliens, I’d happily settle for Bushwick and Wongo World.


Written by nancykoan

June 16, 2015 at 3:32 am

Posted in music, Uncategorized

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Swiss in New York Yah

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Dieter Meier, known as the Godfather of techno pop along with collaborator Boris Blank, kept Le Poisson Rouge jumping Sunday night, though the uber polite Swiss obeyed the  New  York cabaret laws and didn’t dance.  Dieter’s new project “Out of Chaos” starts with madness…the wailing violin, video images bouncing off the back screens aided by the alchemical zap of electro punk pioneer T.Raumschmiere.

Meier, strolling out in a red velvet jacket and shades, looked like he could play the regal vampire Tom Hiddleston’s uncle in Jim Jarmush’s Only Lovers Left Alive. Dieter Meier, the legendary voice behind the Swiss electronic pop pioneers Yello, renowned for the ’80s underground hits “Oh Yeah” (featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Simpsons) is a true Renaissance artist, making films and writing books; in 2013 he was the subject of a solo exhibition, Dieter Meier and the Yellow Years, at The Watermill Center in Long Island. His music is a combination of Brecht, Weill and Leonard Cohen. Though raised in a banking family, he has redeemed himself by being a poker player, an activist and now runs an organic sheep farm with the decidedly Swiss viticulture in Argentina.

His presence in New York is due to the generosity of Zürich Meets New York: A Festival of Swiss Ingenuity, a week of events highlighting the contemporary relevance of visionary movements and ideas born in Zurich and their impact on American culture. It is all building up to the 100th anniversary of the Dada movement and Zurich’s role as a 21st century hub for artist and scientific innovation.

One of nice surprises of this festiva.l besides falling in love with Dieter. was sitting next to a real live Nobel Prize Winner… Kurt Wüthrich, the 2002 winner for chemistry. Never  happened at Starbucks.

A music sample:

At another Swiss Fest event, Elizabeth Bronfen, Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Zurich, talked about her latest book.Night Passages maps the cultural history of the night in literature and films. She was joined on the New York Film Academy stage by Anastas Michos, cinematographer of Freedomland and Mona Lisa Smiles. Unfortunately it was hard to hear her some of her serious thoughts but Michos was enlightening, sharing the artists’ approach to shooting darkness and delivering the right look for a scene. He, analyzed the film clips of Taxi Driver along with  his own Freedomland and Untraceable. Moderator Ben Cohen could use a new adjective to substitute for his exhausted ‘fantastic’, though he did mention that his new film with penis in the title is soon to (ouch) come.

 For a list of events,

Written by nancykoan

May 21, 2014 at 3:41 am