Acting Jewish: Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage by Henry Bial

By Henry Bial

The historical past of the yank leisure and the historical past of the Jewish humans within the usa are inextricably intertwined. Jews have supplied Broadway and Hollywood with a few of their such a lot enduring expertise, from writers like Arthur Miller, Wendy Wasserstein, and Tony Kushner; to administrators like Jerome Robbins and Woody Allen; to performers like Gertrude Berg, John Garfield, Lenny Bruce, and Barbra Streisand. Conversely, express company has supplied Jews with a method of upward mobility, a version for the way to "become American," and a resource of cultural pride.Acting Jewish files this historical past, the paintings of Jewish writers, administrators, and actors within the American leisure with specific cognizance to the ways that those artists provide behavioral versions for Jewish-American audiences. The publication spans the interval from 1947 to the current and takes a detailed examine a few of America's favourite performs (Death of a salesperson, Fiddler at the Roof, Angels in America), motion pictures (Gentleman's contract, Annie Hall), and tv exhibits (The Goldbergs, Seinfeld), deciding on a double-coding through which performers enact, and spectators learn, Jewishness in modern performance-and, by means of extension, enact and browse different minority identities. The e-book hence explores and illuminates the ever-changing dating among Jews and mainstream American culture."Fascinating and unique . . . Bial's command of resources is awesome, and his idea of 'double-coding' is convincing . . . the publication shouldn't have any hassle discovering a wide audience."-Barbara Grossman, writer of humorous lady: The existence and instances of Fanny BriceHenry Bial is Assistant Professor of Theatre and picture, collage of Kansas. he's editor of the functionality experiences Reader and co-editor of the Brecht Sourcebook.

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Extra info for Acting Jewish: Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage and Screen

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Viewed in this light, we might see Jack (and The Jazz Singer) as promoting a kind of Jewish cultural continuity, even while rejecting Judaic religious observance. The Jazz Singer ends with Kol Nidre, a prayer in which] ews ask God to be released from all vows they made under duress during the past year. This is a holdover from the days of forced conversion to Chris­ tianity in Europe. In "Kol Nidre," Jews express their desire to be released from promises they have made that go against Jewish law.

It was no longer necessary for theater to wrap itself in the flag or assume the guise of education to meet the approval of a conser­ vative establishment. As the American theater began to grow, it moved beyond the revivals or adaptations of European plays and the patriotic pageantry that had characterized its infancy. While Shakespeare, Sophocles, and Racine remained frequent choices, audiences began to demand entertainment that spoke more directly to their own situation. As a significant portion of these audiences was of immigrant origin, a number of late­ nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American dramas dealt with the struggle to adapt to the New World.

Did it modify the reader's notions about a certain aspect of contemporary Jewish life? "93 Additionally, all the perfor­ mances discussed in this book have two characteristics in common: (I) the performance generated, immediately or eventually, a critical dis­ course among writers and critics for whom Jewishness is a major con­ cern; and ( 2 ) the performance achieved significant commercial and crit­ ical success. " I am not the first critic to recognize, rightly or wrongly, double-coded indicators of Jewishness in Death ofa Salesman or Zelig.

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