For Immediate Release
COENS’ SHTETL DUO AT FRINGE
Allen Lewis Rickman and Yelena Shmulenson -- better known as the shtetl couple from the Coen brothers’ Oscar-nominated A Serious Man -- will appear in The Essence: A Yiddish Theatre Dim Sum at this year’s New York International Fringe Festival.
The play, also featuring Broadway veteran Steve Sterner, is an irreverent introduction to all things Yiddish. Described by its creators as “a crash course in Jew”, The Essence… features drama, melodrama, music, peculiarities of the language, and the Yiddish New Testament. “This is not one of those nostalgia shows for the Jewish elderly, not at all,” said Rickman, who also wrote and directed. “Our best audiences have been gentile college students. We translate the Yiddish sections with supertitles, so it’s kind of like they’re watching a wise-assed foreign movie. People who like very traditional Yiddish theatre, on the other hand... they’re not so happy.” Zalmen Mlotek, artistic director of the 97-year-old Folksbiene Yiddish Theater, evidently agrees; he said older people have been “quite shocked” by the play.
Yelena Shmulenson and Allen Lewis Rickman in "A Serious Man"
The Essence… will perform six times during the
Festival; details are available at the show’s website,
Beyond A Serious Man, Rickman is familiar from his work in Barry Levinson’s Emmy-winning You Don’t Know Jack and his recurring role on Boardwalk Empire (Broadway-goers also saw him in last season’s Relatively Speaking); Shmulenson, from her work in The Good Shepherd and on ABC’s Life On Mars. (She will also be joining the ‘Boardwalk Empire club’, appearing in Season 3.) Sterner, also the show’s musical director, appeared on Broadway in Oh, Brother and The Sheik Of Avenue B, and is perhaps New York’s best-known silent film accompanist.
Originally presented in 2007 by New York’s New Yiddish Rep, where it played to sold-out houses, The Essence… has also been performed in Amherst, Massachusetts, in Stockholm, Sweden, and at the CUNY Grad Center. The published version of the play appeared in the anthology “Yiddishkeit” (Abrams 2011; co-edited by the late Harvey Pekar), where it was very well received.
Created in 1996, The New York International Fringe Festival has been described as “a two-week-long buffet of plays, musicals, magic shows, stand-up comedy, mime and just about any other kind of performance you can come up with”. It is the largest multi-arts festival in North America, with more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for 16 days in more than 20 venues. Total attendance typically exceeds 70,000.
Shows that have premiered at FringeNYC include Urinetown, Silence! The Musical, Dog Sees God, and the musical adaptation of Debbie Does Dallas. Other notable Fringe presentations include the internationally-produced Charlie Victor Romeo and the American English-language premiere of Tom Waits and William Burroughs’ The Black Rider.
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Pictures for Download:
https://rapidshare.com/files/1599816108/Essence - 1.jpg
(caption for both: Steve Sterner, Yelena Shmulenson, Allen Lewis
Rickman in "The Essence: A Yiddish Theatre Dim Sum"
attrib.: George Xenos)