Setting The Stage
Jewish Theater in the Upper Midwest from Its Origin to the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company
by Doris Rubenstein with Natalie Madgy
Upper Midwest Jewish Journal Volume 8
For decades, Jews in Minnesota and much of the Upper Midwest had little opportunity to participate in theatrical enterprises, either amateur or professional. Thespian seeds planted among the footlights of Jewish institutions during the Great Depression blossomed following World War II these Jewish flowers spread out and sprouted in many forms: Amateur productions became an important part of most synagogues and their youth programs, Jewish Community Centers, Jewish summer camps. These amateur shows built skills, strengthened talents, and cultivated appreciative audiences. The generation who matured during the last quarter of the Twentieth Century took bold new steps in every aspect of theater: homegrown acting, writing, and technical talent; impresarios who started innovative theater companies; leadership on Boards of Directors. The culmination of this movement resulted in the establishment of the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company which celebrated its twenty-fifth continuous season in 2019-2020. The MJTC proves that Jewish theater can have broad audience appeal without losing its yiddishe neshuma. Authors Doris Rubenstein with Natalie Madgy trace the roots of Jewish theater in Minnesota and neighboring parts of Wisconsin that resulted in the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company. Profiles of local Jewish artists-past and present-in our region reveal the outsized impact this population has had on the richness of theater life in Minnesota.