New Jewish voices: plays produced by the Jewish Repertory by Edward M. Cohen

By Edward M. Cohen

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It was a failure in its original Broadway production both because of script problems and because the production was so decidedly un-ethnic; the very talented Maureen Stapleton was dreadfully miscast as Behrman's Aunt Ida. Ironically enough, this play was a success in its first New York revival twenty years later at the Jewish Repertory Theatre. Lillian Hellman also had a failure late in her career when she dealt with a Jewish family in My Mother, My Father and Me. But, other than that, the issue was a minor strand in her work.

The Emanu-El Midtown YM-YWHA is a neighborhood center which includes a music and dance school, art classes, a nursery, a Hebrew school, a senior citizens program, a photography gallery, and a health club. It serves a community of about four thousand people in mid-Manhattan, including Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, middle-income housing developments directly across the street from the center. All available space on all four floors of the Midtown Y is booked all day, the hallways are teeming with youngsters, the telephones are always ringing, and the mimeo machine is always spewing out notices.

Of course, an address in literature is different from an address on an envelope, but the idea is the same. 3. The Jewish Repertory Theatre Ran Avni, the founder and artistic director of the Jewish Repertory Theatre, wished to form a theatre in which the central issue of the material produced was the "address" of the characters; not a theatre restricted to plays by Jewish playwrights, nor plays with Jewish characters, but one concerned with plays about Jewishness, about roots, about their value, their loss, the search for roots, the distaste for roots, the joy of roots.

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