In Stardust Lost , Stefan Kanfer brings the colorful Yiddish stage roaring back to life.
Born of ancient traditions stretching back to the drama of the Old Testament, the Yiddish theater was a vibrant part of the immigrant experience. Kanfer invokes the energy, belief, and pure chutzpah it took to establish and run the thriving, influential theaters. He reveals the nightly drama and comedy that played out behind the scenes as well as onstage, and introduces all the players—actors, divas, playwrights, directors, and producers—who made it possible. A richly evocative chronicle of its brief but dazzling existence in America, this is both an elegy for and a tribute to Yiddish theater—lost, but not forgotten.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Stardust Lost|
|Release Date: 03-12-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||Stardust Lost|
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THE FOUR INGREDIENTS
For almost five thousand years the Jews needed no theater to relate their story. They saw themselves as participants in an epic teeming with conquests and enslavements, revelations and miracles. A burning bush that speaks, the parting of the Red Sea, a rod turned into a snake, a woman turned into a pillar of salt—where was the playwright that could match God's imagination? Even the setbacks were of a grand scale: expulsions from Eden and Egypt, lost wars, subjugation. What stage could reproduce these incidents?
The scholar Max I. Dimont was so impressed by the theatrical quality of Jewish history that he divided it into three acts. "When the curtain rises on the first 2,000 years," he wrote in The Indestructible Jews, "we will note that it proceeds like a Greek predestination drama, with God seemingly the author and divine director." But there was a difference. In the classic Greek plays, the characters remain unaware of their destinies. In the Jewish predestination drama, Jehovah gives them their parts and tells them of His expectations—expectations that will require martyrdom and perseverance.
The Old Testament's pivotal scene is the essence of dramatic tension. Abraham, the man Kierkegaard dubbed the Father of Faith, makes ready to offer up his son Isaac—until Jehovah reprieves him. A covenant is struck between man and Jehovah: if this true believer remains obedient to the divine will, he and his descendants will be the Chosen People: "I will make of thee a great nation," promises the Voice, "and I will bless thee and make thy name great.&q