"Finding the Jewish Shakespeare brings back to literary life Jacob Gordin, a protean, prophetic, wickedly funny and absolutely serious theater artist, and, along with him, his great granddaughter Beth Kaplan resurrects the richness, magnificence and complexity of the world of Yiddish theater. This is a witty, shrewd and elegant book which tells a story of vital importance: how an impoverished, beleaguered immigrant culture begins to speak to itself, begins to find its agency by understanding itself through art, by finding its voice. In the process, Kaplan performs a smaller but invaluable service, namely detailing the life of a marvelous playwright, whose career makes a great story about making theater."—Tony Kushner
"A remarkably thorough and insightful biography. . . . With this wonderful and meticulously researched book, Kaplan has done much to revitalize Gordin’s memory."—Canadian Jewish News
"Admirably combines scholarly research, critical analysis, loving tribute and personal memoir."—Jerusalem Report
"A fascinating, original tale, elegantly written and a great read."—Aaron Lansky, founder and president, National Yiddish Book Centre
Born of an Anglican mother and a Jewish father who disdained religion, Kaplan knew little of her Judaic roots and less about her famed great-grandfather until beginning her research, more than twenty years ago. Shedding new light on Gordin and his world, Kaplan describes the commune he founded and led in Russia, his meteoric rise among Jewish New York’s literati, the birth of such masterworks as Mirele Efros and The Jewish King Lear, and his seething feud with Abraham Cahan, powerful editor of the Daily Forward. Writing in a graceful and engaging style, she recaptures the Golden Age and colorful actors of Yiddish Theater from 1891-1910. Most significantly she discovers the emotional truth about the man himself, a tireless reformer who left a vital legacy to the theater and Jewish life worldwide.
Beth Kaplan, award-winning actress and playwright, teaches memoir and personal essay writing at both the University of Toronto and Ryerson University. She has lectured in the United States, England, France, and across Canada. In 2008, she delivered the Wexler Lecture in Jewish History in Washington, D.C.
6 x 9, 0 pages, 8 black and white illustrations