Posts Tagged ‘popular literature’
Torontoist’s Kevin Plummer had a nice feature looking at one locus of Yiddish-language drama in Toronto.
As an expression of a new, secular Jewish culture, “Yiddish theatre served an important psychological function for the Jewish immigrant” in Toronto, historian Stephen A. Speisman writes in The Jews of Toronto: A History to 1937 (McClelland & Stewart, 2005 ). “[I]t was a place where he could laugh uproariously after a day in the factory,” Speisman continued, “where he could rise out of the indignity of his existence as a rag-picker to heights unattainable outside the fantasy of the stage, where the catharsis of weeping simultaneously over one’s own lot and over the tragedy of the fictional character was to be had for ten cents.”
In Toronto, the centre of Yiddish comedy and drama was on the northeast corner of Dundas and Spadina, the site of Isidore Axler’s Standard Theatre—the first purpose-built Yiddish playhouse in Canada. At its peak in the 1920s and early 1930s, the Standard was considered by journalist and historian Hye Bossin to be “the finest Yiddish playhouse in North America and probably the world.”
Yiddish stock companies visiting Toronto performed at Orange halls and other venues until 1906, when the People’s Theatre, the city’s first Yiddish theatre, was opened in an old synagogue. The venue was so dilapidated that a balcony collapse during an early performance almost led to tragedy. Charles (Chanina) Pasternak, the owner and a Ward entrepreneur, brought another businessman (alternatively given as Simon Rabinowitch or a Mr. Abramaovitch) into the enterprise and relocated to a former Methodist Church at Agnes (Dundas) and Terauley (Bay) streets into a 900-seat auditorium. Known as The National when it opened in 1909—and later as The Lyric—the theatre hosted productions of New York touring companies. The shows were well-attended, but it doesn’t seem to have ever become a profitable business venture.
The biggest touring companies, like those led by Boris Tomashefsky and Jacob Adler, still preferred larger venues like Massey Hall, Hart House, or the Grand Opera House, which they could sell out with ease, to the rudimentary National. And the theatre’s practice of staging shows on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons earned the consternation of the orthodox community, some of whom refused to ever even enter the building or expelled attendees from their congregations. Moreover, by the early 1920s—when the Lyric was razed by fire—the theatre had been languishing as the city’s Jewish community, becoming more established and wealthier, had moved west from the Ward to re-center itself on the intersection of College and Spadina.
I certainly do.
Star Trek novels are novels I have read since I was very young, starting with my uncle’s copy of Diane Duane’s Spock’s World. This particular line goes back decades, the current Simon & Schuster imprint going back to the 1980s.
Why? There is much that I like in Star Trek–certain characters, certain civilizations, certain tropes–and I like seeing more of them. Since the universe has disappeared from television for more than a decade and the franchise rests on the anemic movies, the novels are for me the only media in which the universe continues to develop.
Perhaps more to the point, many of the novels are really quite good. Especially within the past two decades, at worst the authors have been competent, vetted by Paramount. At their best, these authors can actually be very good, writers with strong reputations outside of Star Trek tie-in fiction who are able to do good things with their source material. An entertainingly interconnected continuity has been built up over the past two decades, one in which actions have lasting consequences. Sometimes the television shows kept hitting the reset button. With the modern novels, this just does not happen. I like seeing this for myself.
This is certainly not the only thing I read. It is something that I do read and take pleasure in reading. Why not?
What about you? What do you think? What fandoms, what expanded universes, do you engage with?
CBC’s Catharine Tunney reported on the sadly ironic emigration of Haligonian poet laureate El Jones to the United States in search for work. Greater Halifax, I would note, is probably the most prosperous region of the Maritimes: Things are not better in Sydney.
Halifax’s poet laureate says she is leaving the province at the end of August for a job in the U.S. because she can’t find a permanent teaching job in Nova Scotia.
“I need to eat. I need sleep,” said El Jones in an interview with CBC News.
“I’m going to be homeless for the month.”
[. . .]
The writer and activist has had jobs at Acadia University and the Nova Scotia Community College. She said it’s hard to work in Nova Scotia. Between her teaching, activism and poet laureate duties Jones says she had been working 16 to 20 hours a day, sometimes for free.
According to the Halifax Regional Municipality, the poet laureate is a poet or writer who lives in the city and “has achieved excellence amongst their peers and whose work is of relevance to the citizens of HRM.”
The person in the position receives a small stipend of $4,000 for the two-year term and acts as “an advocate for literary arts and reflects the life of HRM through their work. As an advocate for poetry, language and the arts, the poet laureate attends events across the Municipality to promote and attract people to the literary world.”