The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is proud to present Bratslav-Beethoven-Bratslav, an innovative JTS theatrical production conceived and staged by Yossi Yzraely, an internationally acclaimed, Israel-based theater director. Working with a predominantly JTS–based cast of actors and musicians, Yzraely developed Bratslav-Beethoven-Bratslav as a stage adaptation of The Seven Beggars, the mystical tales of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav (1772–1810). The director was assisted by Edna Nahshon, JTS professor of Theater, who served as producer and dramaturg. The limited-run production, a program of the JTS Arts Initiative, marks a new phase in the conceptualization of Jewish theater. Bratslav-Beethoven-Bratslav will be presented to the general public on May 18 at 9:30 p.m. and May 19 at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. at JTS, 3080 Broadway (corner 122nd Street), New York City, in JTS's intimate Beit Midrash. Performances are approximately one-hour, and will be followed by a Q&A session. Admission is free, but space is extremely limited and RSVP essential. Reserve seats now at firstname.lastname@example.org, and indicate number of tickets requested and which showing (date and time) you want to attend. Please arrive at least 15 minutes early for check-in, and have photo ID available.
Bratslav-Beethoven-Bratslav's combination of Rabbi Nachman's inspired tales and Ludwig von Beethoven's music reflects chronological symmetry as Beethoven (1770–1827) and Rabbi Nachman were, in fact, contemporaries. But there is more than zeitgeist to this match; the pairing reflects the desire to liberate Rabbi Nachman's work of worn clichés and illuminate its fundamental brilliance through the melodies of another genius with a tormented soul. The collage of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav's tales, prayers, and dreams and Beethoven's trios results in an exciting spiritual performance piece. Musical director Dr. Boaz Tarsi, associate professor of music at JTS, transposes Beethoven's cello and violin into tenor and soprano voices, representing Bratslav's symbolic polarization of male and female, which may be interpreted as the inherent tension between God and Shekhinah (the feminine perception of God), or perhaps between the Shekhinah and the People of Israel.
Yossi Yzraely, widely known for his cutting-edge theatrical interpretations of classical drama and traditional Jewish texts, is spring 2013 Ginor Visiting Professor of Israel Studies and visiting dramatist at JTS. He is a former artistic director of the Habimah National Theatre of Israel and the Khan Theatre in Jerusalem, and currently teaches a JTS course on Bratslav-Beethoven-Bratslav with Dr. Nahshon. Yzraely has directed numerous productions in Israel, Europe, and the United States, including two on Broadway (The Crucible, upon Arthur Miller's personal invitation, and Only Fools Are Sad, the English version of his history-making hit, Ish Hasid Haya). He is professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University, and has taught at a number of universities in Europe and the United States.
Dr. Edna Nahshon's area of expertise is Jewish theater and performance. Her books include Yiddish Proletarian Theatre: The Art and Politics of the Artef, 1925–1940 (Greenwood, 1998) and the award-winning From the Ghetto to the Melting Pot: Israel Zangwill's Jewish Plays (Wayne State University Press, 2006). Other books include Jews and Shoes (Berg Publishers, 2008), Jewish Theatre: A Global View (Brill Academic Publishers, 2009), and Jews and Theater in an Intercultural Context (Brill, 2012). She is currently completing a book on Jewish responses to The Merchant of Venice, and is visiting curator of the forthcoming Second Avenue Meets Broadway exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York.
Dr. Boaz Tarsi's liturgical settings, Hebrew art songs, and compositions for chamber ensembles, orchestra, chorus, voice, and solo instruments have been performed and broadcast throughout the United States and Israel, and hosted by such institutions as the New York Chamber Music Society, Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center, Kiev Philharmonic, and Cristofori Hall in Amsterdam.
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