Monday, April 9, 2012

Yamulkas in Berlin 4:30

Rain-Droplets Up-Close
“He spoke to her as if she could understand him, never in high pitch or in monosyllables, and never in nonsense words. This is milk that I am feeding you. It comes from Mordechai the milkman, whom you will meet one day. He gets the milk from a cow, which is a very strange and troubling thing if you think about it, so don't think about it . . . Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated

 Esther by Elizabeth Swados(1988)

The Plain Facts

  1. Length:82 pages long.
  2. Genre:Theater Production
  3. Characters:
    • King Ahashuerus
    • Mordechai
    • Haman
    • Esther 
    • Narrator-Ethyl
    • Narrator-Lucy 
    • Beggar One  thru Four
    •  Contestants One thru Four
    • French Waiter 
    • Farmer 
  4. Setting: The village in Persia where the King Ahashuerus reigns.  He reigns with an iron will, and desires to be entertained.  The time of year this play takes place is during the festival of Purim.    

So, what's It About Man?

This play shares the great joys held in the holiday of Purim, and the art of story telling.

Vegetable Juice

First Words

Sho-sha-nat ya kov,
B'ir o-tam ya-chud,
te-ceh-let mordachai.  (Hebrew Prayer or Chant it can also be sung.)

Favorite Words

Note: this play is witty and the one liners zing with a regular assault.
  1. Miss. Shamsky began her pageant career at the age of five when she was crowned "Little Miss Kosher Dill"
  2. Thou are ripe as a pomegranate!
  3. They speechhh in a tongue That sounds like spit. No matter how hard I try, I can't understand it. Jews!
  4. Clap your hands - at the mention of - Haman! Hold up your hammers, Bash out Haman! Rip up a paper, with Haman's name! Use a rattler, Use a grugger, Drown out Human's name!

Last Words

Sing unto the LORD a new song,
Sing unto the Lord, all Earth,
A new song, sing it loud,
Oh sing unto the LORD a new song.

Literary Review:

Elizabeth Swados celebrates the story-telling tradition found in Jewish lives through out time.  Purim, to her, is the time that  

"And nothing is more gratifying for a teller of tales than to bring together people... people of distant generations and contemporaries.... Hassidim and philosophers...poets and dreams... Jews and Christians...students and teachers...and Republicans!  They are all prone to fall under the spell of certain words and they are intrigued by the density of certain silences.  There is nothing like a good story." pg 11

 I love how she plays with the traditions of Purim.  She incorporates the holiday into acts of her play.  For instance when Haman reveals his plot to kill the Jews, she has Haman say, "Shake those shakers when you hear Haman's name.  Let's shake those shakers."  I remember the noise makers of the holiday and how much joy I got from shaking them.   I loved the carnival like atmosphere that was created at my childhood synagogue, Har Ha Shem (in Boulder Colorado).

Ultimately, Purim is not so much a tale about these things as it is a celebration of memory.  Let us celebrate.  Let us remember those who suffer.  Let us remember every second of our tiny, but significant joys and let us grow generous and strong.
pg 81.

Turnip Tips

  • Check out her page at the IBDB.
  •  She suffers from depression, and has written a number of books to help those with depression, and  deal with their disease.
  • Check out the blog of Rabbi Rose of Har Ha Shem Boulder (One More Grain of Sand).  Har Ha Shem Boulder was the synagogue that I went to as a child. 

Words Defined:

word definition

Purim means Lots or Lottery.  The celebration of Esther and s saving work from the hard-nosed Anti-Semitic Persian advisor named Haman.  The story shows the lots that are divided between rich and poor, the hungry and the full.
hifalutin Pompous or pretentious.
Megillah The Hebrew word for Scroll; it has also, according to the author, taken on the popular meaning of a long, detailed story.

Where to Find This Story

One can find the story in Fateful and Multiplying 9 Contemporary Plays from the American Jewish Repertoire.  
Signet Book
672 pages
ISBN: 0451628705
ISBN-13: 9780451628701
This outstanding collection showcases nine of the finest Jewish playwrights, including Elizabeth Swados, William Finn and James Lapine, Herb Gardner, Jeffrey Sweet, Jon Robin Baitz, Emily Mann, David Mamet, David Margulies, and Allan Havis.

One can buy this book in paperback from Alibris for one dollar.   

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