Monday, September 26th, 2011
Our fourth Six-Word Story Show, “Oy! Only Six? Why Not More?”—Six Words on the Jewish Life, on September 21 at NYC’s 92YTribeca started with a tribute to Leonard Cohen and ended with a song from Godspell. In between what followed was an unforgettable evening of storytelling.
Realizing our show was on the same day as Leonard Cohen’s birthday—is there a better storytelling Jew?—I enlisted my friend Doni Gewirtzman, a constitutional law professor with the gift of song, to open the evening with an unannounced rendition of “Dance Me To the End of Love.” And then the storytellers took the stage, one after another, telling brisk, intense, funny, and inspirational backstories to a Six-Word Memoir on
the Jewish life. Lynn Harris (watch her video, above) told a hysterical tale about being a born and bred New England girl addicted to lobster and falling in love with a rabbi. Rachel Sklar, accompanied by Francesca Garrard, sang a funny ode to Jewish camp boyfriends past in a piece called, “Summer Camp: Good for the Jews.” Writer and PEN American Lifetime Award winner Walter Mosley (video, above, at top) spoke movingly about being an outsider as both a black and a Jew. Deborah Copaken Kogan (video, below) recalled the morning of her Orthodox father-in-law’s funeral, and the amazing moment in which her 13-year-old daughter led a “bloodless coup” against the rabbi who tried to stop 40 mourning women from walking to the gravesite. Watch the video here:
And there was much more from Zev Borow (video above, telling the surreal story of how he was asked to write a humorous memoir about the Holocaust), Lance Rubin (”You think I’m Jewish. Essentially correct”), Elissa Goldstein (who won our Facebook contest and bravely took the stage just days later to tell a story of un-kosher kangaroo meat), 92YTribeca’s so-cool in-house Rabbi Dan Ain, and musician Nick Blaemire, whose life’s narrative arc took him from a Jewish home to his upcoming part in Broadway’s Godspell.
Of course, any SMITH show is going to be a participatory experience. When the audience arrives, each person is handed a slip of paper in which to write down a Six-Word Memoir to share during the Six-Word Story Slam that closes each show, where we heard a wild range of sixes from “Jewish parents raised me orthodox atheist” to “Great Jewish ballpayers. Greenberg, Koufax, and…”
And as I perused the tables and floors for abandoned sheets of papers with sixes scribbled down, I found one that the author was apparently too shy to share publicly but indeed captured the spirit of the evening: “Catholic kills at Jewish memoir reading.” Watch Anthony Giglio’s story below.
Photos: Courtesy of Maya Weinhaus/92YTribeca.