New Jewish Fringe festival comes to Golders Green

Robert Messick in the King Alfred Phoenix Theatre

Robert Messik, Director of the King Alfred Phoenix Theatre sees two of his plays performed at new Jewish Fringe festival Tsitsit. - Credit: Joshua Thurston

A new festival of music, theatre, and comedy "with a broad Jewish flavour" comes to Golders Green this autumn.

Named after the Hebrew for the ritual fringes worn by Orthodox Jews, Tsitsit is a nationwide festival with events at King Alfred Phoenix Theatre in North End Road.

All were selected under the fringe ethos of 'if you want to do it you can' and the criteria: "If it's Jewish enough for you, it’s Jewish enough for us."

Carole Shaw

Carole Shaw appears at the new Jewish Fringe Festival - Credit: Supplied

“It’s been a labour of love putting it together”, says founder and north Londoner Alastair Falk. "We’re delighted to have a programme that spans Jewish culture in all its dazzling variety."

The former headteacher of the Independent Jewish Day School and King Solomon High School added: "A few years ago I had a one man show called Much Ado About Noshing and got the fringe bug from performing in Edinburgh. Then there was lockdown and discussions about doing our own fringe festival.


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"In the spirit of fringe we have tried to be as open as possible. We put the word out and got a fantastic spread of people writing their own solo stuff, shows by fully fledged professional theatre companies, and more fringey experimental work by people at drama school."

Buenos Klezmer perform in the new Jewish Fringe festival Tsitsit at the King Alfred Phoenix Theatre

Buenos Klezmer perform in the new Jewish Fringe festival Tsitsit at the King Alfred Phoenix Theatre - Credit: Karla Gowlett

Performances start on October 3 with New York-raised, stand-up Michael Capozolla's new show, Kugelroni. Later that week, comedian Aaron Levene looks at what it means to be a Buddhist Jew, and on October 6 following a sell-out run at the Camden Fringe, Jewish stand-up comedy Jew-O-Rama takes to the Phoenix stage. 

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On October 16 there's a team of Israeli and Palestinian theatre makers presenting The Demons of Jerusalem and on October 17 a Sephardi Songs programme featuring voice, guitar, and percussion. Two half-hour plays from award-winning writer, Robert Messik: Pineapple, about pregnancy and pizza; and Crust about Carnival in ancient Babylon, are on October 18 and 19, then on October 20 is a re-imagining of the 18th century Jewish Portuguese playwright Antonio José da Silva’s version of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

On October 23 comic Daphna Baram offers her new show Unmuted, and on October 24 is The Wolf of Baghdad is an audio-visual journey through a Jewish family’s memories of their lost Iraqi homeland. Gamayun Theatre Company's revival of the classic Israeli comedy, The Rubber Merchants runs October 25 to 28, and The UK’s answer to Mrs Maisel, comedian Carole Shaw performs her new show, Keep Kalm and Kvetch on October 30.

Throughout half term week there is twice daily children's show Meet At the Ark At Eight, based on a popular book about smuggling a third penguin on board Noah’s Ark.

Falk says an Arts Council grant has allowed them to subsidise or commission new work and develop shows. Events also include a Halloween-themed night at the Jewish Museum in Camden Town and a cabaret evening at Soho Theatre.

"Our watchword is diverse and disperse. We wanted to reflect some of the history of Jewish settlement in the UK, so we have events in Leicester, Penzance as well as Manchester, Edinburgh, and Cambridge. This is the first year, and if it doesn't kill us we hope it might grow. It's open, easy to access and you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy it."

 For details and tickets go to https://tsitsitfringe.org/

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