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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

Tradition, Tradition, Tradition: The Use of Old Material in Yiddish Theatre and Music Event

Stock image of sheet music
20 October 2022
God's House Tower, Southampton & Online via Zoom

For more information regarding this event, please email .

Event details

The first of the two ‘Jews and Performance’ events will be focused on the practice of bringing to life old material from Yiddish music and theatre through research and performance. Changes in conventions, culture, and language make performing older Yiddish material challenging, yet many still want to engage with this interesting material. We will hear from historian, Yiddishist and performer Dr Vivi Lachs (Queen Mary, University of London, AHRC project ‘Making and Remaking the Jewish East End’) about her practice of incorporating early 20th century Yiddish texts in contemporary performances, and from Parkes PhD candidate Katie Power about the use of older material in mid-century productions in the London Jewish theatre world. This event will feature live performances of examples presented during the evening.

About the Speakers

Dr Vivi Lachs is a historian of London’s Jewish East End, a Yiddishist and performer. Her book Whitechapel Noise (Wayne State University Press, 2018) draws new historical detail from Yiddish poetry and music-hall song of the Jewish East End. London Yiddishtown (Wayne State University Press, 2021) is her translation of selected Yiddish East End stories from the 1930s and 1940s, offering a new history of London’s Yiddish writers of that period. She has also published articles about the Jewish socialist leader Morris Winchevsky. She gives both academic and public talks.

Vivi performs and records with the bands Klezmer Klub and Katsha’nes, co-runs the Yiddish Open Mic Cafe, and the Great Yiddish Parade – a marching band bringing Yiddish songs of protest back onto London's streets. She is vice-chair of the Yiddish Cafe Trust and is a Research Fellow at QMUL for the AHRC project, "Making and Re-making the Jewish East End". For this, Vivi is researching fiction published in the London Yiddish press from 1884–1954, including novels and novellas, stories, sketches, scenes and feuilletons. She is translating a selection of these texts for an anthology of British Yiddish fiction. She is also researching local Yiddish plays and theatre sketches.

Katie Power is a PhD student at the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations, University of Southampton. Her doctoral research focuses on the history of Yiddish theatre in London during and after the Second World War, with particular focus on the development of a Yiddish art theatre in London. Yiddish theatre in London has attracted little scholarly attention, and so her thesis sets out to rectify this while demonstrating that London was home to a Yiddish community which reacted to the atrocities of the war through a renewed effort to establish a modern, secular Yiddish cultural hub in London.

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