A production meeting for "THE ESSENCE"


So what's the show like, really?

In the words of its creators:

"THE ESSENCE is an introduction to Yiddish language and culture designed for people who don't give a rat's ass about Yiddish language and culture."

"It is definitely NOT one of those dopey revues for alte kakers.  It does play well to people who know the language, because it’s full of rich, juicy Yiddish -- but it plays even better to people who know absolutely nothing about it.  For them it’s a revelation. 


Our best audiences have been gentile college students.” 
The show “tells the entire history of Yiddish theater, from the sublime to the appalling, in 83 New York Minutes”, occasionally interrupted by 'Irrelevant Interludes' about Yiddish editions of the New Testament, or How To Curse In Yiddish.  It was created by Allen Lewis Rickman, Yelena Shmulenson, and Steve Sterner, who describe themselves as being “of the younger generation of Yiddish theater veterans, i.e., not dead yet”. 

THE ESSENCE features lots of stories, some funny, some touching, in English, along  with music and scenes from the best of Yiddish theater.  (With supertitle translation: "Like word balloons in comic books.")  “Also from the worst”, said Rickman.  “The Yiddish stage provided some of the most poetic, stylish, and dynamic theater of the last 150 years.  Some of the greatest moments in world theater history came from Yiddish theater. 

Along with some raw pus. 

We mainly focus on the high points -- there’s marvelous stuff here -- but the low points are there too.  Because they’re funny.  And the historical stuff runs the gamut -- sometimes moving, sometimes depressing, occasionally infuriating, often hilarious.”

The show has been seen in various New York venues over the last ten years -- including a sold-out run at the NY International Fringe Festival -- along with other venues in the northeast.  And it played to standing ovations in Stockholm and Bucharest.

It is now, for the first time, being seen in New York in an actual run.


THE ESSENCE is nostalgia-free.
Guaranteed -- or we give you back your 83 minutes.


The Messiah Comes to America

"All she does is swallow her teeth!”

Jesus Loves Yiddish

“She’s a pistol-hot floozie that no Jew oughtta see!”

History!  Poetry!  Israel!  Beer!

"Every jackass in America pulls gold from the ground!”

Hysteria In The Shtetl

Fishing With Jews

A couple of 22-year-olds after seeing our show