viernes, 7 de enero de 2011

The New York Times - Rabbi Rabino

A scene from the multimedia production “Rabbi Rabino,” directed by Vivi Tellas.

Fans of contemporary theater have their hands full for the next two weeks. In addition to the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival, Performance Space 122 is presenting its annual Coil Festival of multimedia dance and theater performances. Over the next week Erik Piepenburg will be interviewing several theater companies with shows in the festivals.

Neither Hyman Levine nor Moses Birnbaum will ever be mistaken for Jackie Mason, but that’s not for lack of trying. The two conservative rabbis from Queens, who know from Jewish jokes, comprise the cast of “Rabbi Rabino,” an irreverent mini-variety show about Judaism and modern identity created by the Argentinian director Vivi Tellas. (The title is the word “rabbi” in both English and Spanish.) The piece runs through Jan. 15 at Performance Space 122 as part of the 2011 Coil Festival.

Ms. Tellas spoke to ArtsBeat about what’s so funny about being Jewish, and how to audition a rabbi. Following are excerpts from the conversation.

Q.What is it about Judaism that made you want to create this kind of show?

A.I decided to work with rabbis as a way to look for some answers about performers. I’m Jewish but I didn’t have much religious eduction so I’m curious about the world of Judaism. Last year, while working in New York, I found these excellent, sense-of-humor rabbis who have a lot of knowledge about Judaism.

I’ve been to services at synogugue, and it’s so much about music and singing. That’s part of this show. The whole mystery of the piece for me is when they pray. The rabbis pray three times a day, and during the show they pray because it’s time for them to pray. My question is: is that praying true? Or is it fiction? Can God listen to you if you pray on stage in a theater piece?

Q.What do you think?

A.Each time I see the runthrough I ask the same question. I don’t know yet. We have six nights to see. Will the stage make it more true or more fictional? That’s the most mysterious question.

Q.What’s the show like? What do the rabbis do on stage?

A.They sing. They tell jokes. They do the voices of Aaron and Moses from the silent movie of “The Ten Commandments.” They re-enact personal stories. At the end we do a little bit from “Cyrano” because Jewish rabbis can fall in love and have families. I’m interested in how love is for a rabbi.

They play the shofar at the end. There’s also a buffet at the end that the performers share with the audience, so people can talk to them. People can ask things about what they’ve seen. The performers are not professionals, so they are curious, and need feedback. We’ll have some kosher snacks.

Q.How did you choose these specific rabbis to be in your show? What set them apart?

A.Moses said he always wanted to be a standup comedian. Hyman said, well, this is my last thing on earth. He’s 82. He’s saying this is his goodbye or something. He’s OK, but he is talking about his whole life in the course of this show.

Q.How do you cast rabbis? Did you hold rabbi auditions?

A.A sense of humor is the first test I gave rabbis. I would tell them to tell me Jewish jokes. If they were funny I’d say you can be in my show.

“Rabbi Rabino” runs through Jan. 15 at Performance Space 122. More information is at the Coil Festival Web site.

Ver nota en New York Times