Saratoga Jewish Cultural Festival, in collaboration with Temple Sinai and supported with generous grants from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, presents Jews, God, and History (Not Necessarily in That Order), a one–man show written and performed by Michael Takiff and directed by Tony nominee Brian Lane Green.
Religions go back to the Bronze Age before science told us that the reality of the universe does not match the stories as told in the Bible. Yet we still practice the religions and rituals of our ancestors. So, how, and why, do we live with the traditions in the modern age?
Takiff explores the big questions asked by all people: about God and humanity, faith and reason, tribe, and society. Venturing into rarely explored territory, Jews, God, and History pulls no punches, challenging viewers to question their assumptions about issues like God, the Holocaust, and the tension between tribal loyalties and assimilation into a majority culture. It is about Jews, but it’s not only about Jews. Jews, God, and History is reverent and irreverent, epic and intimate, comforting and maddening, and unlike any show you have seen before.
The show provokes people to think and to laugh, employing a breadth of comedic forms: stand-up, sketch, character, impressions, and just plain jokes. Dialogue, rant, and insight fill out the show’s rich dramatic material.
Takiff is the great-great-great grandson of the legendary Hasidic sage Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev (northwestern Ukraine), a most beloved Chassidic rebbe to whom hundreds of stories, plays, and poems are attributed. Takiff himself is a writer, actor, comedian, singer, dancer, and historian who came to New York to be an actor, studied classical singing, and then spent ten years touring the country as a standup comic. He was known for his intelligent, original material and his theatrical presentation. Takiff has authored numerous books, including A Complicated Man: The Life of Bill Clinton as Told by Those who Know Him (Yale University Press) and Brave Men, Gentle Heroes: American Fathers and Sons in World War II and Vietnam (Harper Collins/Wm. Morrow). His writing has appeared in The New York Times,The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, Salon, The Nation, CNN.com and the Huffington Post.
Takiff is founder and executive director of Gravitas History, a company that enables individuals and families to preserve and pass down their legacies through professionally written biographies, autobiographies, and family histories. Takiff also teaches memoir-writing in New York City where he lives with his wife and son. He does not believe in reincarnation, but hopes that if he’s wrong, his next life included playing center field for the Mets.
“Geared to mature audiences, Jews, God and History is introspective, and provides us the opportunity to laugh while stimulating our brains to reexamine core beliefs, not to change, but perhaps to reaffirm. You be the judge,” says Phyllis Wang, Coordinator of the Saratoga Jewish Cultural Festival.