Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Away

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Away

A Novel

by Amy Bloom

Away
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2007, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2008, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

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Beyond the Book

Yiddish Theatre in America

(Away opens with Lillian arriving in New York in 1924, where she quickly finds a job as a seamstress for a famous Yiddish theatre, and becomes the mistress of its star actor.)

More than 200 Yiddish theatre troupes performed in the United States between 1890 and 1940 (photo of a theater group in 1909). In their heyday in the 1920s, twelve troupes resided in New York City alone, with 22 Yiddish theatres on the Lower East Side, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. Their repertoires spanned a variety of genres including operetta, musical comedy, revues, melodrama and Yiddish adaptations of Shakespeare. Audiences came to laugh and be entertained, but a vibrant literary culture also led to adaptations of Ibsen, Tolstoy, and Shaw running in Yiddish houses long before they appeared on Broadway. By the mid-1920s, Yiddish actors played to packed houses, many of their patrons solely English-speaking and paying Broadway prices for seats.

With roots...

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