(April 21, 2022, Seattle, WA, JNS Wire) Two great traditions of 20th century Yiddish culture, children’s literature and the radio play, come together in “Somewhere Very Far Away: Stories from Honey on The Page,” an audio production from Tales of the Alchemysts Theatre. The production is available as a free stream at https://alchemysts.org/somewhere-very-far-away/.
Tales of the Alchemysts Theatre, a Seattle-based performance company, is committed to bringing audiences provocative and entertaining Jewish literature, Jewish writers and live music. The company consists of four artists who have been performing together on and off since 2000.
When the pandemic shut down theaters in 2020, the company decided to channel their talents into creating audio content so that they could share their work with a wider audience. Their first audio offering, “Monsters, Magic & Mysticism,” was released in 2021 and debuted original renditions of the “The Golem of Prague” and “The Dybbuk: Between Two Worlds,” written and directed by Laura Ferri.
“Somewhere Very Far Away” is adapted from Honey on the Page, an award-winning treasury of Yiddish children’s literature, selected and translated by Miriam Udel, that was published in 2020. This heartwarming and humorous production features material from Udel’s delightful book along with spirited music and songs from The Kesselgarden Klezmer Duo and the all-women punk klezmer trio Brivele, plus enchanting sound design by Robertson Witmer.
The presentation includes stories and poems that journey from the Old World to the New, including Yankev Fichman’s story of a simple tailor’s magical Sabbath in an enchanted forest palace, Solomon Simon’s tale of squabbling spouses in Chelm, and an excerpt from Dovid Rodin’s proto-feminist “An Unusual Girl From Brooklyn” about an intrepid girl who wants nothing more than to read in peace. Although the stories were written for children, they are infused with cultural and political themes.
“Through my work as a translator and critic, I have tried to offer the wisdom and fun of Yiddish children’s literature to new generations,” Udel said. “What a thrill it is to hear the Alchemysts bring them to new life—now accessible to English speakers, inviting for audiences of all ages, and even a bit less crackly than they sounded on the radio so long ago!”
The stories were adapted and directed for this production by Laura Ferri. The cast includes Maia Brown, Laura Ferri, David S. Klein, Isaac Levin-Delson, and Shellie Shulkin, accompanied by musicians Carl Shutoff and Laurie Andres of Kesselgarden Klezmer Duo and Stefanie Brendler, Maia Brown, and Hannah Hamavid of Brivele.
Tales of the Alchemysts Theatre looks forward to resuming live performances in the fall of 2022. In the meantime, the spirit of their work has been captured in these audio performances, which are available for free to all who wish to listen.