Saturday, June 28, 2008

To Chelm and back

Thursday night, some friends and I headed to the theatre, for fun, but also to check out what one of our coworkers has been up to — she's been claiming intensive rehearsal schedules and late hours, so now we would see what she had to show for it.

The Wise Men of Chelm is a very funny Yiddish musical:

It is said that after God made the world, he filled it with people. He sent off an angel with two sacks, one full of wisdom and one full of foolishness. The second sack was much heavier and, after getting caught on a mountaintop, all the foolishness spilled out and fell into Chelm.

The news release gives some further background.

It's been years since I've attended theatre of any kind (oh! except for in the park), but the quality of this production — the singing, the acting, the music, the set design — far surpassed the amateur community theatre endeavours I've seen in the past.

The show runs until July 3. See it if you can!

Chelm is a city in eastern Poland; the idea of Chelm as a city of fools is longstanding in Jewish folklore:

There are a lot of popular stories about their "smart" conduct. For example: One Jewish Chelm resident bought a fish on Friday in order to cook it for sabbath. He put the live fish underneath his coat and the fish slapped his face with his tail. He went to the Chelm court to submit a charge and the court sentenced the fish to death by drowning.

Isaac Bashevis Singer has told similar stories about the residents of Chelm. I'll be looking into them.

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