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Plays of Jewish Interest Begin First Season in London’s West End

The first season of plays of Jewish interest in London’s West End has opened with a one-act comedy by Wolf Mankowitz amid well-deserved praise from the national press. Set in Cork during the Irish troubles of 1921, “The Irish Hebrew Lesson” relates how a Russian-born Jew shelters a young Irish rebel from the British Black and Tans and how the wall of suspicion and fear between them is transformed into sympathy and friendship.

The five Jewish plays are part of a lunch-time series staged at the “Almost Free” theater high lighting the life of various social and ethnic minorities. The Ben Uri Theater Group, which is collaborating in the season, hopes that the experience will enable it to become an independent professional theater of Jewish interest.

The last play in the season, due to end in April, is “Samson and Delilah,” also by Mankowitz. The other three plays all deal with modern Jewish themes. One of them, “The Interview,” by Alan Sillitoe, dramatizes the plight of Ida Nudel, a Jewish “refusnik” in Moscow.

The Ben Uri Theater Group is part of the Ben Uri Arts Society, established in 1915 in London’s East End to promote art and culture among the Jewish community. The Society is entirely self-financing but Martin Landau, the producer and lecturer in fine arts who recently became its executive director, hopes that it will eventually win the support of various official and government bodies. He also hopes to build up the young membership of the Society.

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