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Masking and Unmasking Jewishness on the Contemporary American Stage
Two recent stage productions—Clifford Odets’s Awake and Sing, performed by the National Asian American Theater Company and New Yiddish Rep’s presentation of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman in Yiddish translation—employ provocative performance interventions to problematize notions of the Jewishness of these plays’ characters and narratives. I’m exploring the implications of these two performance strategies in relation to one another and vis-à-vis larger concerns about the performance of racial and ethnic identity on the contemporary American stage. In addition, I’m examining the role of Yiddish in both plays’ history of composition and production, especially how the language figures in both masking and unmasking Jewishness.