Reviewed in The Shofar, www.tiferethisraelgreenport.org, November, 2014
Who Is Essie Finkelstein? Identity Revealed In Readings
By Leah Friedman At Nov. 2 ‘Judaism And Art’ Program
Shul member Leah Friedman, this year’s Journal Dinner-Dance synagogue honoree, will contribute another cultural arts program to the shul on Sunday, Nov. 2, at 2 p.m., when she reads excerpts from her new book, Essie Finkelstein, Monologues For An Actress. Following the readings, the author will sign copies of the book. Books can be purchased for $12 at the signing or in advance by calling 631-749-0381. The program is the November offering in the “Judaism and Art” series.
The 49 monologues in the book tell Essie’s story from birth to her 97th year — the sorrows, the joys, the laughter, the pain. Some of the monologues are autobiographical, others are based on experiences of friends, and still others are fictional. In all, readers and listeners will get to know “an ordinary yet extraordinary Jewish girl,” Leah Friedman said. The writer, also an artist, provided the whimsical artwork for the book.
The Judaism and Art series is coordinated by shul members Debra Riva and Saul Rosenstreich. The series explores the influences of culture on the artistic process. Previous lectures have examined the life and work of Saul Raskin, Louise Nevelson, local artist Robert Strimban, and Shelter Island photographer Victor Friedman.
For more information about the upcoming program and the series, call Debra Riva at 631-456-5903.
excerpts of reviews of plays
CLUB SODA(WPA Theatre, N.Y.)
…..Leah Kornfeld Friedman’s compassionate, acutely observed coming-of-age play is intriguing, original and thoroughly affecting….Lillie, the formidable teenage heroine is cousin to Woody Allen’s Alvy Singer and Neil Simon’s Eugene Jerome….VARIETY
THE RACHEL PLAYS(American Jewish Theatre, N.Y.)
…like a revival of the Yiddish melodramas that riveted faithful audiences a half century ago…The playwright has a good memory for the small touches of everyday living in the tenements and for the conversations that rang true in the 1930’s…. NEW YORK TIMES
BEFORE SHE IS EVEN BORN(Theatre For The New City, N.Y.)
For sheer honesty of feeling, this loving affirmation of a family’s enduring female identity is a triumph of the heart….NEW YORK POST
THE GOOD STENO( Hayworth Theatre, L.A.)
….an energetic “UGLY BETTY” meets GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS”…. BLOOMBERG PRESS, L.A.
BEFORE SHE IS EVEN BORN(Theatre for the New City, N.Y.)
Friedman cuts through any potential nostalgia with humor and with ironies that are sometimes fierce…. Raisal, the protagonist, who got out of pre-nazi Europe in time, is a woman both joyful and bitter, self possessed and haunted, filled with the history of generations of Jewish women….THE VILLAGE VOICE
THE GOOD STENO(Hayworth Theatre, L.A.)
….compelling….first rate…. haunting portrait of a gentle but brave young woman struggling to survive within the life-crushing environment of the Garment District in the 1940’s….VARIETY, L.A.
CLUB SODA (National Jewish Theatre, Chicago)
… bubbling with teen exuberance. …focuses on the joys and pains in the life of Lillie, a remarkable heroine……she has real attitude, sheer pluck and radical feminism before her time…..CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
CLUB SODA(WPA Theatre, N.Y.)
For Margaret Mead, the subject was growing up in Samoa, but Leah Kornfeld Friedman’s anthropological researches into puberty’s rites of passage in her sweet and charming memory play is a description of what it was like to be working class, female, Jewish and 15 years old in Brooklyn, 1947. ….CLIVE BARNES, NEW YORK POST
CLUB SODA (WPA Theatre, N.Y.)
.....heart tugging, colorful play about coming of age in Brownsville, 1947. The playwright vividly captures the Norman Rockwell innocence under a tough Brooklyn exterior of 15 year old Lillie, the heroine, born a generation too soon……NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL