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My Mourner’s Kaddish, Recited with a Minyan of Ancestral Ghosts

Published in Tikkun Magazine

My grandmother’s grandmother, Helen, fled
the Pale of Settlement when she was twelve.
With two silver candlesticks weighing down
her pockets, she crossed one continent, one
ocean to a distant land of promise,
to America. She made a life
and home from scratch (from a ball of wax and
matches) in Roxbury, Massachusetts
where she bore many sons and bore my own
great-grandmother who bore my grandmother
who bore my mother who still polishes
Helen Landie’s two silver candlesticks.

For the bodies on the ground, cry eicha!
For the innocent gunned down, cry eicha!

Have you ever seen the Ernst Lubitsch film
To Be or Not to Be? A comedy
about a troupe of Polish actors who
escape German-occupied Warsaw by
dressing up as Nazis—in a strange way
it encapsulates the fate of Jewish
actors and other objectors to the
führer who fled the Rhine for Hollywood.
Werner Klemperer was Colonel Klink for
six years; Casablanca’s Major Strasser,
Conrad Veidt, married a Jude, named himself
one too, and so was banned from German films.

For the bodies on the ground, cry eicha!
For the innocent gunned down, cry eicha!

I have my grandmother’s blonde curly hair,
her blue-green eyes, her pale peach skin, and I
have heard (again and again), “You can’t be
Jewish.” A stranger on the train: “But you’re
so beautiful!” A college classmate: “I
didn’t know, I haven’t told you any
Jew jokes, right?” When I was ten, I saw a
swastika in chalk drawn on the sidewalk
on my way to school; at home, in bed, a
nightmare came and came again: my mother
with the dark hair, olive eyes and skin was
hauled away, and I was left without her.

For the bodies on the ground, cry eicha!
For the innocent gunned down, cry eicha!

The story goes: a group of Jewish men
(Hasids known for ecstatic song and dance)
were lined up to be shot and ordered by
their executioners to sing. One man
offered, “Lomir zich iberbetn,” or
“Let us reconcile”—he sang alone. Then
a voice rose up from somewhere in the crowd,
Mir veln zey iberlebn!” or “We will
outlive them!”—one voice became many like
a spark that starts a wildfire. They sang, “Mir
veln zey iberlebn, iberlebn,
iberlebn!
” and they went out dancing.

For the bodies on the ground, cry eicha!
For the innocent gunned down, cry eicha!

I married a Jewish man under a
chuppah, and we retreated to the woods
for our yichud. Alone together and
holding each other, we watched the sky turn
purple as a bruise. Later, opening
our wedding gifts, we found a pair of glazed
ceramic candlesticks in that same deep
broken-blood-vessel hue. And though neither
of us grew up with the tradition (or
much religion, really), every Shabbos
we light two candles in our candlesticks
and sing, alone together, at sundown.

For the bodies on the ground, cry eicha!
For the innocent gunned down, cry eicha!

Did we walk across the sea (cry eicha!),
Did we live as refugees (cry eicha!),
Did we rebuild our temples (cry eicha!),
Did we decamp our shtetls (cry eicha!),
Did millennia of pogroms (eicha!)
imprint trauma on our bones (cry eicha!),
Will our children’s children’s children (eicha!)
still call out, “Never Again” (cry eicha!),
Did we survive the Shoah (cry eicha!),
To be shot at worship in America?

For the bodies on the ground, cry eicha!
For the innocent gunned down, cry eicha!
As before, today we mourn, cry eicha!
We will outlive them, but not all of us.


Cabaret Opens to the Rave Reviews

"Bracingly original, astonishingly resourceful, and daringly theatrical. These are phrases I often associate with artists like John Doyle, Ivo Van Hoe, or Michael Arden, directors who reinvent and reinvigorate everything they touch. These aren’t phrases, however, I often associate with the local theater scene...Yet bracingly original, astonishingly resourceful and daringly theatrical is exactly how I’d describe the sublime and innovative production of Cabaret offered by the new New Haven-based troupe The Harpers...Under Jay Eddy’s musical direction (she also provided the arrangements – think Amanda Palmer meets Tom Waits meets Kurt Weill)...the noisy drunken bacchanalia being played adds tremendously to the unhinged atmosphere of the show...It’s one of the smartest and most beguiling shows I’ve seen in a long time...you can’t help but feel a twinge of nausea and, at the same time, realize exactly why this specific production of this specific play is of vital importance in 2018. There are moments of genius here." Noah Golden, OnStage

"In this Harpers production, Cabaret has been stripped down to brutal and brilliant effect...Eight [sic.] performers play 20 parts in a staging that virtuosically shifts from night club burlesque to transnational train car to boarding house bedroom with all the dynamism of The 39 Steps." - E.A. McMullen, New Haven Independent

"It’s a rasping hoot of a show, deconstructing sacred musical theater values and crassly dramatizing the breakdown of society and government...The result can be coarse, abrasive and a little bit brilliant...Though some of the treasured Kander/Ebb songs are sung fairly straight, most are meted out in an unmelodious manner that might best be appreciated by fans of Tom Waits, Nick Cave or James Chance...The Harpers’ Cabaret is a coarse, caterwauling social satire about a deteriorating society. I hope it finds the up-for-anything audience it deserves." Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant


Cabaret at Lyric Hall, New Haven

June 22 - July 15 2018

Revel with Cliff and Sally in Weimar Berlin’s short-lived utopia of artistic and technological invention, democracy, and sexual freedom, and witness the swift and terrifying rise of Fascism that destroyed it. Featuring a cast of actor-musicians and brand new musical arrangements from The Harpers’ own award-winning writer & composer Jay Eddy, this is Cabaret as you’ve never seen it before.

directed by Sam Plattus

music direction, arrangements, and choreography by Jay Eddy

and starring Jay Eddy as Sally Bowles

Produced by The Harpers and presented by Lyric Hall


Princess Ten Ten and the Dark Skies at University of California, Riverside

May 26-27, 2017

original workshop production

directed by Chari Arespacochaga

Experience the first Pan Asian Superheroine and first Gender Nonconforming Princess who tackles issues involving bullying and the environment. Intended for young audiences.

book & lyrics by Maggie Herskowitz

music & lyrics by Jay Eddy

dramaturgy by Donatella Galella

original story by Setsu Shigematsu and S.T.R.O.N.G. Edutainment

based on The Guardian Princess series


The Girl from Bare Cove in Residency at The Dragon's Egg

October 2016

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directed by Sam Plattus

words & music by Jay Eddy


Jay named 2016 NYFA Fellow in Playwriting/ Screenwriting

July 4, 2016

“The program is highly competitive and this year’s recipients and finalists were selected by discipline-specific peer panels from an applicant pool of 2,669. Since it was launched in 1985, the program has awarded over $31 million to more than 4,400 artists.”

Announcement from The New York Foundation for the Arts


Beached, an Island Tragedy at PortFringe 2016

June 23-25, 2016

original workshop production

directed by Maridee Slater

words and music by Jay Eddy

  • Cory - Jay Eddy

  • Rainer - Robbie Harrison

  • George - Megan Caniglia

  • Akiva - Nicholas Corda

  • Fran - Sam Plattus

The Shanty Band - Ryan Hopper, Ian Milliken, Marta Rymer

Produced by The Harpers for the PortFringe Theater Festival

Presented at Portland Stage Mainstage


"Never Again" Music Video Release

January 1, 2016

released as Jillie Mae Eddy


ALL THE BOYS Album Release

January 1, 2016

released as Jillie Mae Eddy

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The Boys Are Angry at Soho Playhouse

September 30 - October 2, 2015

 

The first workshop production of The Boys Are Angry was selected for a three night run Off Broadway at the Soho Playhouse as part of their Fringe Encore Series, featuring outstanding productions from the New York and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals.


The Boys Are Angry in Residency at  The Barn Arts Collective

October 2015

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directed by Sam Plattus

words & music by Jay Eddy


The Boys Are Angry Wins at FringeNYC

August 31, 2015

Xander Johnson wins "Overall Excellence in Acting" award at FringeNYC for his performance as AJ in The Boys Are Angry.


The Boys Are Angry named one of “7 Shows to See at FringeNYC 2015”

Zachary Stewart for THEATERMANIA


The Boys Are Angry at FringeNYC 2015

August 14-28, 2015

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directed by Sam Plattus

words and music by Jay Eddy

  • AJ - Xander Johnson

  • Quinn - Nate Houran

  • The Girl - Jay Eddy

Produced by The Harpers for FringeNYC

Presented at The Players Theatre and Soho Playhouse


The Tooth of Crime at The Connelly

March 11-14, 2015

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directed by Maridee Slater

play by Sam Shepard

original music by Jay Eddy and Sam Gelband

featuring Jay Eddy as Crow


Holler, an Appalachian Tragedy at Lyric Hall

December 5-13, 2014

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directed by Sam Plattus

words and music by Jay Eddy

  • MacCoy - Xander Johnson

  • Little Lady - Jay Eddy

The Old-Time Band - Eric Epstein, Nate Houran, Miles Livolsi, Adam McOwen

Produced by The Harpers 


Holler, an Appalachian Tragedy at PortFringe 2014

June 27-28, 2014

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original workshop production

directed by Sam Plattus

words and music by Jay Eddy

  • MacCoy - Nate Houran

  • Little Lady - Jay Eddy

The Old-Time Band - Nick Buonaiuto, Andrew Patterson, Sam Schuth

Produced by The Harpers for the PortFringe Theater Festival

Presented at Portland Stage Storefront Space


The Girl from Bare Cove & SIRENS at The Cell

May 7-11, 2014

a double feature workshop production

directed by Maridee Slater

music direction by Ethan Wagner

music by Jay Eddy

The Girl from Bare Cove

words and music by Jay Eddy

  • Sister - Brittany Johnson

  • Girl - Jay Eddy

  • Mother - Grace Denoncourt

  • Father - Tom Giordano

  • Boy - Dave Register

  • Ensemble - Austin Auh, Megan Caniglia, Emily Ellis, Sophia Holtz, Keith Michael Pinault, Emily Pintel, Corinne Robkin

SIRENS

developed by the company, with music and lyrics by Jay Eddy, and additional text from Tabia Lau, Matthew Minnicino, and Laura Zlatos

  • Nameless - Jay Eddy

  • Young Man - Dave Register

  • Emcee - Austin Auh

  • Sea Witch - Sophia Holtz

  • Sister - Brittany Parker

  • Ensemble - Megan Caniglia, Grace Denoncourt, Emily Ellis, Tom Giordano, Keith Michael Pinault, Emily Pintel, Corinne Robkin

incubated @thecell A Twenty-First Century Salon


SIRENS at Columbia Stages

December 5-8, 2013

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directed by Maridee Slater

music & lyrics by Jay Eddy

book by Tabia Lau, Matthew Minnicino, Diane Nora, and Laura Zlatos

featuring Jay Eddy as Nameless


A SEAGULL at Columbia Stages

October 24-27, 2013

directed by Maridee Slater

play by Anton Chekov

adaptation by Matthew Minnicino

featuring Jay Eddy as Nina


The Girl from Bare Cove at Alchemical Theatre Lab

September 17-19, 2013

original workshop production

directed by Maridee Slater

words and music by Jay Eddy

  • Sister - Brittany Johnson

  • Girl - Jay Eddy

  • Mother - Sophia Holtz

  • Father - Paul Eddy

  • Boy - Luke Wygodny


The Girl from Bare Cove in Residency at The Barn Arts Collective

August 2013

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directed by Maridee Slater

words & music by Jay Eddy


Eddy named “Experts' Choice” at RCSSD MA Music Theatre Showcase

February 2012

The Stage