Coming up in December is a production by KaOZ Klezmer in conjunction with Stephen Israel. Entitled “Shtetl” this show will combine music & theatre to tell an Eastern European Jewish story. Following themes including repression, life in the Shtetl (small enclave), migration as refugees & set with a good dose of Jewish humour. Arnold Zable has been very much involved in the project, helping with translations as well as supplying text from his book “Jewels and Ashes” which tells the story of his return to Eastern Europe researching his family’s origins & subsequent migration to Australia.
Bialistok was more than a shtetl as it’s population multiplied rapidly leading up to the war & ultimately the Nazi destruction of Bialistok. It had been thought of as a safe-haven or last retreat in Poland. KaOZ’s Pietro also decends from Bialistok from where his great grandfather, Mendal Fine left among many Jewish families for Dunedin where he married & soon to moved Melbourne in the 1890s.
Recently while in Melbourne Pietro visited the library Kadimah Yiddish Cultural Centre in Melbourne and found 3 pieces published in a 1960’s collection entitled “My Shtetl”by Israel Smukler. These pieces, which Pietro loves, seem not to have been recorded or translated.
The first & last pieces retain that title while the middle one is “Bialistok, Town of My Dreams”. The music for “Shtetl” uses these & some of Pietro’s own compositions. Bruce McNicol has written the lyrics to two of the items and Stephen Israel has selected the book readings. The three have also worked intensively on the creative development, melding the readings, songs and music into the performance you’ll see. It is hoped that the concept can be developed further for a future full length production. The show in its present (shorter) form will be in addition to a special performance by KaOZ Klezmer. This will be your last chance to see them this year other than at the Woodford Folk Festival.
Stephen Israel is a great actor from the UK who is visiting our area on holidays. Stephen has been acting for 15 years. Plays performed include Laugher on the 23rd Floor with Gene Wilder, The Venetian Twins, The Devil's Disciple, Charley's Aunt, Man and Superman, The life of Galileo, Major Barbara and Everyman. Last year he played Peter Sellers on Ch 4 and did 60 episodes of Animal Express for Ch 5. If you saw him recently play the role of Ferdie in the Fine Art of Kissing the Ground in Australia, then you’ll know not to miss him in “Shtetl”.
Arnold Zable is a widely published writer, storyteller and educator. His books include Wanderers and Dreamers, the award winning Jewels and Ashes, the national bestseller Cafe Scheherezade and the Fig Tree, the companion CD of which was the winner of the National Folk Recording Awards. Arnold now lives in Melbourne with his wife and son.
Rochdale Theatre, Goonellabah
Thu Dec 16th 8pm $15/12
Tickets at the door.
Byron Bay Community Centre,
Fri Dec 17th 9pm $20/15
Tickets at the door.