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OCTOBER 2020 | Volume 196


20th Annual Chutzpah! Festival
Lisa Nemetz International Jewish Performing Arts Festival
Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre and Online
November 21-28, 2020
From $18
www.chutzpahfestival.com or 604-257-5145

The Chutzpah! Festival returns with an exciting lineup of performances this November 21-28, 2020, all available online, with special opportunities to attend intimate shows livestreamed from the stage of the Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre. Single tickets start at $18 (plus applicable fees and service charges) and are available online in October at www.chutzpahfestival.com or by phone at 604.257.5145.

The Chutzpah! Festival celebrates its 20th milestone year of presenting Vancouver audiences with new and exciting, critically acclaimed artists from all over the world working in comedy, music, theatre and dance. This will be the first Festival presented in a digital format, and the first helmed by new Artistic Managing Director, Jessica Mann Gutteridge. Artists will present work from the U.K., Israel, U.S.A., and Canada. The lineup will include concerts, comedy, new dance works, and previews of theatre works-in-progress, paired with stimulating conversations and opportunities to interact with creative artists. Audiences will have the opportunity to attend special live music, dance and comedy performances, with safety protocols in place, or to alternately enjoy simulcasts from the comfort of their own homes.

“As a festival devoted to the excitement of live performing arts, the global pandemic has presented us with new challenges in how we come together to share artistic experiences,” says Jessica Mann Gutteridge.“COVID-19 has upended our usual ways of bringing work to our audiences, but the performing arts remain as vital as ever - perhaps even more so. Connecting to one another despite the distance between us is critical to our health and well-being, not to mention nourishing to our souls. Our 20th festival, at a time of challenge and transition within our organization, is the perfect time to bring together artists who have graced our stages in the past along with those who are new to our audiences.”

Announced today, the 20th Annual Chutzpah! Festival is pleased to present the following lineup:


Iris Bahr – Festival Host (daily) and Live Streaming | November 26 | 7:00pm

The Festival will be hosted by Iris Bahr, the award-winning writer, actor, director, producer and host of the hit podcast X-RAE. Her critically acclaimed solo show, DAI (enough), was featured in the 2019 Chutzpah! Festival. Bahr will lead interactive conversations with Festival artists as part of each presentation, and will also perform her famed stand-up, balancing “pungent humour, bittersweet pathos, and a sublime charm.” (LA Weekly)

The El-Salomons – Norman Rothstein Theatre and Live Streaming | November 28 (Festival Closing) | 7:00pm
Joined by local comedians (live at the Norman Rothstein Theatre) with El-Salomons (live streaming from Brooklyn)
The El-Salomons are a married Jewish-Palestinian lesbian comedy couple (Jess Salomon & Eman El-Husseini) who after years of performing solo decided to add yet another challenge to their relationship: A duo act! Now they tell jokes about one another, in front each other. A sacrifice they make for the fans. Jess and Eman mix jokes and stories inspired by the politics of their relationship with observational humour about love in general.

Jess Salomon (The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon) and Eman El-Husseini (Just for Laughs) met and fell in love at a comedy club in Montreal a decade ago. After just one year of performing together this hilarious couple recorded a comedy special at the prestigious Just for Laughs Festival, now available in Canada on Crave TV.


Shtumer Shabes (Silent Sabbath) by Playwright Rokhl Kafrissen– Live Streaming | November 22 | 6:00pm
New York-based Rokhl Kafrissen’s new work-in-progress Shtumer Shabes (Silent Sabbath) is about the ‘discovery’ of a ‘lost’ avant-garde Yiddish play. Grad student Jess Berman is on the verge of being kicked out of school. Aided by best friend Gareth, Jess meets 90-something Yiddish theatre diva, Sonja Szajnfeld.  Jess believes that Sonja possesses a lost play script, the text of Shtumer Shabes. This was a play whose one performance in Warsaw in 1938 caused a riot and shut down the theatre for a week, never to be performed again, and the script lost. But Jess thinks she will rewrite history if she can convince Sonja to share the script with her.

The role of the 90-something diva will be played by Shane Baker, an accomplished drag performer as well as one of the leading performers and creators on the modern Yiddish stage.

Rokhl will talk about the development of the play and members of the cast will perform short excerpts.

Rokhl’s work on Yiddish culture, feminism, and contemporary Jewish life has appeared in publications all over the world. She is a regular Tablet columnist and was a recipient of a LABA fellowship for 2019/2020.

Old Friends by Playwright Tamara Micner – Live Streaming | November 22| 12:00pm (work-in-progress)
Chutzpah! presents returning festival favourite and award-winning theatre artist Tamara Micner’s (Holocaust Brunch, What You're Missing) new solo show Old Friends about the things we can't get over, and how we actually can. It was a warm night in September 1981 when half a million people came out to see a "neighbourhood concert" that would go down in history: Simon & Garfunkel's Concert in Central Park. After splitting up more than a decade earlier, two beloved Jewish artists came together for one night and held everyone spellbound. Why couldn't they stay together? Why do I care so much? And why - in the midst of COVID and the climate crisis and all the racism - can I not stop listening to them?

Tamara is a celebrated writer, performer and theatre-maker in London England, who hails from Vancouver. Her work tends to look at the past in new ways – including the pre-gentrified East End of London, the Second World War/Holocaust, the postwar period, and experiences of living in their wake – to explore how we can see our past, present and future in ways which are liberating, healing and joyful.


Ben Caplan – Norman Rothstein Theatre and Simulcast | November 21 | 7:00pm
Combining timeless melodies with a contemporary folk-rock twist, singer-songwriter Ben Caplan explores the immigrant experience with profound understanding and wry humour on his latest album, Old Stock. Adapted from the acclaimed music-theater piece Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, the genre-warping album is inspired by the true story of two Jewish Romanian refugees coming to Canada in 1908. Through their travails, Caplan weaves a captivating concept album that reflects on modern issues from immigration to religion to sexuality through his dark, funny, and urgently heartfelt songs. Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story has been an international smash hit, winning dozens of awards and performing extended theatrical runs in more than 20 cities. Between theatre performances, Ben Caplan has been touring these songs with his magnificent band. With his enormous beard, unruly mane, intimately booming voice and beguiling charm, Caplan brings a striking presence to the stage.

Guy Mintus – Live Streaming | November 24 | 7:00pm
Israeli pianist and composer Guy Mintusis a true citizen of the world. Coming from a mixed heritage of Iraqi, Moroccan & Polish Jews, he is currently based in Tel Aviv having spent the past 7 years dividing his time between Israel and New York, while constantly on the go. His recent performances throughout the world include Brazil, India, Bulgaria, Switzerland, France, Germany and different cities in the US/ Canada. Mintus is active in the Jazz, World music and contemporary scenes. His boundary -crossing music portrays the imaginative journey of a young individual searching for truth, beauty and freedom.A trained concert pianist with the energy of a rock-star and a jazz musician’s sense of adventure who’s unafraid to throw into the mix his native Middle-Eastern scales and rhythms. A Gershwin Playgroundis Guy’s 3rd upcoming trio release (on European label ENJA Records, noted for releasing the works of jazz greats such as Chet Baker, Charles Mingus, and McCoy Tyner) and the first album in which he’s prominently featured as a vocalist. Guy states “I am continuously astounded by how relevant, multi-layered and full of possibilities Gershwin’s music remains. Bringing these songs into my trio's singular “playground” while telling the stories conveyed through each song in our own musical language has been a real joy.” It is very timely to be making a Gershwin album in 2020 as an Israeli musician who spent seven years in New York dedicating his life to the Black American art form called Jazz.

In concert, Guy brings together elements from Stride piano to Turkish Makams, Indian rhythms to Bach-styled counterpoint, Jewish melodies and American jazz standards, all weaved together in his own signature style.


Ella Rothschild / Israel’s Suzanne Dellal Centre, Tel Aviv Dance | Live Streaming | November 23 | 7:00pm
In Pigulim, a cultural narrative unfolds against the backdrop of a meal at a long dining table where three characters suffer from unbearable loneliness and battle their way between life and death. Each character travels between their individual materialistic being and their consciousness, revealing their essential humanity in relation to existence and the quest for happiness. In Pigulim, the ceremony of the meal allows space for banality and fantasy, fear and desire, and class struggle.  Rothschild’s adeptness at weaving intimacy and intricacy amplifies the role each individual occupies in the group and smartly asks who is absent and who is being missed.

Ella Rothschild is an award-winning choreographer, multi-disciplinary artist, and dancer. Rothschild has danced with Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company, and Batsheva Dance Company under the artistic direction of Ohad Naharin. Currently, Rothschild performs with Crystal Pite/Kidd Pivot. Since 2010, Rothschild has created her own work in collaboration with artists from different disciplines. Ella is the recipient of a 2019 residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center (NYC) and she was named an artist in residence in the Suzanne Dellal Centre’s inaugural residency program.


Idan Cohen / Ne. Sans opera and dance (Chutzpah! Artist-in-Residence)
Norman Rothstein Theatre or Live Streaming | November 25 | 7:00pm
Hourglass - World Premiere
Hourglass brings together contemporary dance and live music. This new work features a duet with former Ballet BC company dancer Racheal Prince & returning Ballet BC company dancer Brandon Lee Alley (Dance//Novelle) joined on stage by pianist and celebrated conductor Leslie Dala. Hourglass is set to 4 Piano Études by acclaimed minimalist composer Philip Glass, one of the most important musical influences of the 20th/21st centuries. Glass’s work is celebrated for its ability to bend time, play with our perception of it, and break it apart. Drawing inspiration from this, Israeli choreographer and stage director Idan Cohen, Artistic Director of ‘Ne. Sans opera and dance’ fuses the past with the present to generate a movement that speaks of the most primal representation of time in our bodies: age and the process of aging.

Idan Cohen performed with Israel's world-renowned Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and has been creating and teaching as an award-winning choreographer since 2005.

For more information on the 2020 Chutzpah! Festival, please visit the following platforms:

Website:       www.chutzpahfestival.com
Facebook:    www.facebook.com/Chutzpah.NRT
Twitter:         www.twitter.com/ChutzpahFest

About Chutzpah! Festival:

Chutzpah! The Lisa Nemetz International Jewish Performing Arts Festival is the Lower Mainland’s music, dance, comedy and theatre festival presenting international, national, and local artists. The Chutzpah! Festival delivers audiences work that is forward-looking, multi-layered, and entertaining. The 2020 Festival, running from November 21-28, offers virtual and live performances and welcomes performers from across the globe, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Israel, and the U.S. www.chutzpahfestival.com



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Vancouver's arts and culture website providing theatre news, previews and reviews