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“Indecent”

Friday July 28
After an hour of more fiddling with the
internet box, to no avail, I went out to the park, the pressure cooker release valve
for this madhouse city, 843 acres, 500,000 trees, and I appreciate every one of
them.

A slow walk across to the west side, where I
feel more at home than on the east – funkier, more artistic, more young people
and Jews. On Columbus Avenue: a storefront called Animal General advertises
Bereavement Counselling and Puppy Playgroup. A few stores down is Upper Breast
Side, a store selling nursing supplies. Yuppyland. Someone had left books on a wall,
and I picked up “The Wind in the Willows.” Perfect reading for a stifling
Manhattan day.

 Seen in a store window. Every writer’s dream!

 Another shop – selling clothes by Vermeer.

A newstand featuring two of my fave men – Macca – three whole magazines! – and Justin, an article wondering why he can’t be President. If only. 
To Harry’s, a vast shoestore which carries
lots of large sizes for the big-footed woman. A sale! But the shoes on sale in
my size were execrable, the only word for them, and once I saw the sale prices,
no way would I buy a pair at regular price. So, onward, the bus down Broadway
to Lincoln Centre’s new TKTS booth. Heaven, despite the long lineup, not to
have to battle Times Square to get a reduced price for seats. I got tickets to
both shows I want to see: Indecent
tonight, and Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812 tomorrow matinee. I’ve already got a Michael Moore ticket
for tomorrow night. The rest of my weekend is planned.
A bite to eat in a cool atrium, then a walk
back across the park to the east side and the long slog home, stopping at
Citarella to buy supper. Very hot and muggy and my feet are swollen. Here, I am
without internet. Withdrawal. I may start to shake. Except of course for my
phone.
11 p.m. Saw Indecent tonight, one of the main reasons I came to New York, about
the play God of Vengeance by Yiddish
playwright Sholem Asch that shocked the world when it was first produced in
1907 by its cast of prostitutes and a tender lesbian love scene. I wrote about it
in my book on the Jewish Shakespeare. Paula Vogel, to whom I’ve sent the book,
has written a drama about the difficult history of the play – including an
arrest on obscenity charges in New York in the Twenties – about the tortured
Mr. Asch, and eventually about the destruction of the entire Yiddish world. The
director Rebecca Taichman has created a musical landscape with whirling actors,
musicians onstage dancing among them, and powerful images, especially dust
pouring out of the sleeves of her actors, first as a symbol, I think, of
dusting off the play and history, and later, as a reference to the ashes of the
Holocaust. People have asked why I didn’t write a play about my
great-grandfather, so I was interested to see what Ms. Vogel had done with this
story. It’s terrific.
An underlying message of the play is about
intolerance – toward artists, Jews, homosexuals, and especially immigrants.
What a timely moment. I keep seeing headlines as I walk – the latest, Trump
telling police not to “be nice” to suspects. The whole scene grows more appalling
day by day, and people here, it seems to me, are fiddling while Rome burns –
shopping and eating and jabbering while the planet disintegrates. The extremes
of poverty and wealth on the streets is more egregious than ever. The ride home
on the subway tonight – sheer exhaustion in the air. The whole system is so
deeply wrong, it hurts to walk through it.

I’m sorry to sound crabby – and
hypocritical, in fact, as I swan about to shoe shops and shows complaining of
social injustice. But I am profoundly uncomfortable here. Grateful to be seeing
brilliant theatre in a land with great artists, grateful to be staying in the comfortable
home of my cousin, grateful I only have one more day before I go home.

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2 Responses to ““Indecent””

  1. It looks good specially the park this, it looks such a nice and calm place, I am glad that you shared your experience with us. Thank you for this blog

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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