ONLINEJewish Folktales Through a Modern Lens: “Tales of Chelm”

Top Pick Next Event: February 24, 2022 Free
chelm masks 1
(Photo: Dori Robinson)

Adaptors Jesse Garlick and Dori Robinson approach classic Jewish folktales through a modern lens in “Tales of Chelm,” reimagined by JArts TheaterWorks.

Composed of four segments, “Tales of Chelm” utilizes innovative performance techniques, such as puppets, masks and clowning, to tell the stories of the people of Chelm—Eastern European villagers who considered themselves uniquely wise and whose antics have been amusing us since the 16th century. Learn how the town of Chelm came to be, follow along as they attempt the seemingly impossible and discover why Jewish culture has rendered these stories immortal. Zany fun for all ages!

Episode 1: “How the Town of Chelm Came To Be” (premiering Feb. 3):

“How the Town of Chelm Came To Be” serves as an origin story told through shadow puppetry. It revolves around two angels who are sent by God to create a more holistic society. The first angel collects wise folk to disperse among other populations. The second angel attempts to gather all the foolish folk from across the land and place them in a sack; however, his plan is thwarted when the sack hits a tree, releasing its contents and resulting in a town inhabited exclusively by fools.

Episode 2: “To Catch a Thief” (premiering Feb. 10):

“To Catch a Thief” explores the friendship that inadvertently blossoms between Gedaliah the Goniff and Zalman Shlomo the Gate Keeper. It opens with Gedaliah stealing a coin purse from Reb Fishel, the town mayor. Zalman attempts to pursue Gedaliah, only to be tricked by him in a variety of idiotic ways. As the narrative progresses, Gedaliah’s plans to evade Zalman become increasingly ridiculous.

Episode 3: “How the Chelmites Stole the Moon” (premiering Feb. 17):

Gimpel and Barel the Beadle concoct a plan to capture the moon and help the poor citizens of Chelm. Gimpel proposes that they capture the moon by bringing in a big barrel of borscht. When the moon is reflected in the barrel, they seal and cover it to “entrap” it. However, upon uncovering the barrel, they realize that contents of the barrel have spilled out and melted. This installment is jam-packed with zaniness and utilizes mask work.

Episode 4: “Winter of Discontent” (premiering Feb. 24):

In the final segment of the series, audience members witness the Chelmites bemoan their situation for the very first time. The inhabitants of Chelm acknowledge the extreme disparity between the rich and poor folk, concluding that there is no true justice in Chelm. They therefore send two members of the community to go seek justice elsewhere. When these two Chelmites come across others who claim to have an entire warehouse filled with barrels of justice, they jump at the opportunity to procure one. However, upon returning to Chelm, they discover that the barrel isn’t filled with justice at all, but something else entirely. Ultimately, the Rebbe of Chelm guides everyone toward a deeper understanding of the very nature of fairness.

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Fact Sheet
Every week on Thursday, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pmLast event on February 24, 2022

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