Art Feinglass and Seattle's New Jewish Theater Company
BD: Why did you start the Seattle Jewish Theater Company?
AF: I felt the need to create something personally meaningful and significant. Being Jewish is important to me. While I’m not religious, I do very much appreciate the rich Jewish cultural heritage, especially in theater. I would like to introduce the great plays—provocative dramas, warm comedies, delightful musicals—that have grown out of the Jewish heritage and continue to reflect and interpret that heritage today.
BD: What is a Jewish play?
AF: To my mind, a Jewish play is a play that touches on some aspect of the Jewish experience, and that definition can be fairly flexible. We’ll be performing, in English translation, classics of the great Yiddish theater that delighted audiences in the 19th and early 20th centuries; holiday-based pageants from the Sephardic Jewish tradition; more contemporary award-winning plays by writers like Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, David Mamet, Herb Gardner, Donald Margulies and Wendy Wasserstein; and cutting-edge works by emerging new playwrights.
BD: Do you have to be Jewish to participate?
AF: I remember years ago there was a famous poster in the New York subway of a little Asian boy happily enjoying a sandwich made with Levy’s rye bread. The tagline read, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s.” That’s how I feel about the Seattle Jewish Theater Company. You don’t have to be Jewish to be in the cast, the crew or the audience.
SEE IT: Tales of Chelm, from the 1950s off-Broadway trio The World of Sholom Aleichem opens on November 6, as a fundraiser for the Washington State Jewish Historical Society at Herzl-Ner Tamid on Mercer Island, $18–$36; and on November 20 at Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue, free.