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UAlbany Stages English-Language Premiere Of Classic Yiddish Play

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 18, 2005) -- The University at Albany Center for Jewish Studies, department of theatre, and Performing Arts Center will stage a reading of Peretz Hirschbein’s 1905 Yiddish drama, Miriam, at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 3, 2005 at the UAlbany’s Performing Arts Center on the uptown campus. The reading will be directed by Joel Berkowitz of the UAlbany Judaic studies department, and performed by a cast of students, faculty members, and professional performers. A discussion with the translators and cast, as well as a kosher reception, will follow the performance.

The reading is the premiere of a new English translation of this work, a collaborative effort by Berkowitz and Jeremy Dauber (Columbia University) which will be published in their forthcoming anthology, Landmark Yiddish Plays (SUNY Press).

Miriam was the first play written by Hirschbein, who helped transform the Yiddish repertoire with his nuanced, sophisticated dramas of Eastern European Jewish life. Until now, Miriam has remained one of Yiddish theatre’s hidden treasures, according to Berkowitz, with "beautifully written dialogue, deftly drawn characters, and a moving story of an innocent confronting the perils of big-city life."

Berkowitz said, "Though written nearly a century ago, Hirschbein’s drama feels very contemporary. The love of simple people for which Hirschbein was famous is vividly on display here, yet at the same time, Miriam unflinchingly confronts profound social problems, in the spirit of other controversial naturalistic dramas of its era, including Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, Gorky’s The Lower Depths, and Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession."

The reading is free and open to the public. For more information contact Yoel Hirschfeld, 591-8514


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