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Friday, September 19, 2014

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Play about a theatre legend opens in Edinburgh

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John Hirsch, Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson’s play about the legendary Canadian theatre director John Hirsch, opens Aug. 1 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe after a successful run in last season’s Stratford Festival. The run continues to Aug. 25.

Nashman and Thompson co-created the play; the former stars and the latter directs. According to a press release, Hirsch, a Hungarian-Jewish orphan of the Holocaust, was widely regarded as “Canada’s most controversial, flamboyant, intimidating, inspiring and deeply influential director.” He created the Manitoba Theatre Centre, ran the Stratford Festival and CBC Drama, and directed plays on and off Broadway and for Israel’s renowned Habima Theatre.

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Parade on Stage: Stageworks Toronto presents Parade, the Tony Award-winning musical about Leo Frank, the Jewish man accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl in his factory in Atlanta. Railroaded by the courts, Frank was tried, convicted and hanged, paving the way for the formation of the Anti-Defamation League. The musical is by Jason Robert Brown, the theatrical book by Alfred Uhry. George Ignatieff Theatre, Aug. 8 to 18. $25. www.stageworkstoronto.com

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Names in the News: Some 70 Canadian authors and poets have signed an open letter to the Israeli government opposing plans to resettle thousands of Palestinians and Bedouins. The letter was initiated by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, an organization that is consistently supportive of the Palestinians, condemnatory towards Israel, and utterly myopic and mute about the many other trouble spots in the region they purport to care about.

Sadly but not unexpectedly, many admirable Canadian Jewish writers have added their names to the letter, among them Edeet Ravel, Stan Persky, Gabor Mate, Karen Shenfeld and Michael Redhill. Other signators include Yann Martel, Nino Ricci, Margaret Atwood, Alberto Manguel, Sheila Heti and Lawrence Hill. One wonders if their mentor and guide in such matters is the writer Alice Walker, who, despite her wonderful literary gifts, has demonstrated such misguided instincts in the political sphere as to make herself a laughing stock.  

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Arts in Brief

• Osnat Lipa presents an art appreciation program featuring an illustrated overview of Israeli art, highlighting some of the leading  artists and the development of  artistic culture in Israel beginning in the late 19th century. Active Seniors, Boomers and Retirees, Miles Nadal JCC, Thursday Aug. 15. Cost $4 includes refreshments at 1:30 p.m., program at 2. 416-924-6211, ext. 155. 

• Soulpepper presents Angels in America, the two-part 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tony Kushner whose subtitle is A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. Both parts of the play (titled Millennium Approaches and Perestroika) are being presented and may be viewed in a single day or on separate days. Tickets for both parts start at $99. Directed by Albert Schultz. www.soulpepper.ca

• Toronto-based band Jaffa Road has been having a busy summer. They played at a folk festival in Yellowknife and last week appeared at the Alaska State Fair in Haines, Alaska. The band performs at the Oakville (Ont.) Jazz Festival on Aug. 10 and at Ashkenaz’s Taste of Richmond Hill on Aug. 25. www.jaffaroad.bandcamp.com

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At the Galleries

• Weight of Memory is an exhibition of works in mixed formats by David Brock, Mahla Shapiro, Jessica Thalmann, Yael Brotman and Shlomi Amiga. The show “attempts to answer the constant question of what we owe to history and how past events that rocked us as a people can be digested and reformed into new artistic narratives.” Miles Nadal JCC Gallery, Aug. 3 to 28. Reception Saturday Aug. 8, 7 to 9 p.m. 416-924-6211, ext. 250.

• Personifications, an “invitational” solo show by Israeli-born Canadian artist Nava Waxman, features recent work in sculpture and painting, inflected by calligraphy, collage and “modularity.” On view until Sept. 1 at the Julie M. Gallery, 15 Mill St., Distillery District. 416-603-2626, www.juliemgallery.com

• Hamilton’s Beth Jacob Synagogue is seeking submissions for its O-Ma-Noot Gallery, a spiritual and creative art sanctuary for Jewish values and themes. Artists of all faiths are welcome to submit works before Aug. 20 for an exhibition to be titled Introspection. 905-522-1351, www.bethjacobsynagogue.ca 

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