Lectures

Nahma Sandrow has lectured at many distinguished universities including Harvard, Oxford, Brown, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, New York University, the University of Missouri (Kansas City), the University of Pennsylvania, and the Department of History and Theory of Theater of the Academy of Arts of the Polish Institute of Science (Warsaw). The institutions she has addressed include the Young Directors’ Lab of Lincoln Center, the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of the City of New York, the National Yiddish Book Center, the Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles), and the American Conservatory Theater (San Francisco). In addition, Dr. Sandrow has spoken at conferences of the Modern Language Association, the American Society for Theatre Research, the Classics in Context Festival at the Actors Theatre (Louisville), and many others.

The students enjoyed the lecture and were very happy to be able to meet with you…[We] look forward to being able to welcome you to Harvard again.
–Heidi Sander, Administrator, Harvard University Center for Jewish Studies

First-rate…sound scholarship with a light touch.
–Stephen C. Schultz, Professor, Department of Theatre Arts and Speech, University of Louisville

Superb teacher! Interaction with the audience is masterful: it’s obvious that she enjoys the continuous dialogue between them as much as they do.  No one wants the evening to end. Which is the only problem.
–Sylvia Zenia Wiener, Director for Community Affairs, Central Queens YM & YWHA

Passion and eloquence…a truly delightful program.
–Sallie Gross, Associate Director,  National Museum of American Jewish History (Washington DC)

Very warm and exciting speaker…visit was an overwhelming success.
–Rabbi Michael A. Monson, for the University of Pennsylvania Departments of Drama and Folklore, and Hillel

Nahma Sandrow is available to lecture and lead workshops.  Among recent lecture topics:

Yiddish Theater: Prototypical American Art Form. Many American immigrant communities created their own theaters in their own languages.  These theaters preserved cultural traditions and ties to the old home while simultaneously moving audiences forward toward Americanization.  The stars, the plots of plays, and the entire theater-going experience all fed the deeply felt emotional needs of the immigrant community.  Exploring parallels with German, Italian, Finnish, Mexican, Chinese, and other foreign-language American theaters, the lecture shows how this creative tension between old and new produced energy and art.

Mothers on the Yiddish Stage. From the vaudeville “My Yiddishe Mamme” to the dignified “Queen Lear,” Mirele Efros, from cuddly to horrifying, Yiddish theater portrayed many kinds of mothers.  This lecture explores them and what they have in common, using original songs and scenes.

Jacob Gordin and the Golden Age of Yiddish Theater. A towering figure of the Lower East Side at the turn of the nineteenth century, Gordin was a revolutionary and a guru, the transformer of the Yiddish stage – and author of such stunning melodramas as “God, Man, and Devil” and “Mirele Efros: The Jewish Queen Lear.”

Love on (and off) the Yiddish Stage. Plays about love and marriage and sometimes both; stars as love objects; show biz gossip and backstage romance.

Revolution on (and off) the Yiddish Stage. Yiddish theater as a revolution in Yiddish culture; playwrights who escaped from Siberia and the plays they wrote.

Money on (and off) the Yiddish Stage. Plays about rich people and poor people, and money as a literary symbol; show biz, ticket sales, and theatrical unions; how people made a living (or didn’t) in Yiddish theater.

Yiddish Theater on Broadway.  Adapting Yiddish theater for English-speaking audiences entails more than just a dictionary.  Anecdotes describe the development of Fiddler on the Roof, Kuni-Leml, and other shows while analyzing the cross-cultural difficulties that arise in rehearsal.