Tuesday night at Hunter College Playhouse I had the pleasure of seeing the Folksbiene Troupe’s new Purim Shpiel, Purim in Khelm. The show started at 7. I got a call from the Folksbiene around 5:30. Would I be able to stand-by to work the supertitles? My friend and fellow member of the iberkvetchers farayn [super-title operators’ union], Khane-Elke, was on duty, but was feeling nisht azoy ay-ay-ay [like shit] and might have to scram at a moment’s notice. Would I do it? Sure, I had an important memo to finish for a partner, but with a little extra yiddish adrenaline, I got it done and to the theater, well, only five minutes late. And lucky for us both, Khane Elke made it through the whole show ok, and I got to watch the whole show with my total attention.
Not only did the shpiel feature amazingly funny performances, with multiple layers of cross-dressing hilarity, but the book, script and many songs were ORIGINAL. As in, this is probably one of the first original purim shpiels to be written in yiddish by a non-khasidic community, in a very long time.
Motl Didner, associate Artistic Director of the Folksbiene and Miriam Khaye Siegel, jewish librarian, accordionist and Yidishist extraordinaire were most responsible for making this year’s shpiel happen. Both are under 35, come from secular, non-yiddish speaking homes, and both learned Yiddish as adults. Motl wrote the book and Miriam-Khaye wrote the yiddish script and many of the songs.  One of my favorites was performed by the Haman character (booo) who, in the play within the shpiel, was being played as a mush mouthed “Arele Brando”. He enunciates, however, in his big yiddish number “Yidn, yidn umetum” [jews, jews everywhere].  As anti-semite’s laments go, it was pretty damn funny. Especially because he was wearing a tux and rabbit ears.
So, it’s FREE and has very helpful super-titles (Russian and english), like at the opera. No excuses, don’t miss this!
The next performances are around the other boros of NYC:
Tuesday, March 6- Lehman College, Lovinger Theater
– 2 PM. Free tickets: 718-960-8025
 Wednesday, March 7 – Queens College, Colden
Auditorim – 2 PM. Free tickets: 718-793-8080
 
 Thursday, March 8 – Brooklyn College, Whitman
Theater – 2 PM. 718-951-4600
Info: Folksbiene 212-213-2120