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Actor Guy Kapulnik talks about the play “A Shayna Maidel” reading at West Coast Jewish Theater

Industry: Entertainment

Los Angeles, CA (PRUnderground) February 8th, 2020

A Shayna Maidel by Barbara Lebow – two sisters – one a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, the other brought up as an American, meet in 1946 after a separation of almost 20 years, and in the course of a heart-rending evening, they achieve an intimacy that transcends the theatrical event.

Sunday Feb 9th, at 2p there will be a reading of the play, directed by Howard Teichman, at West Coast Jewish Theater, Los Angeles. I met up with actor Guy Kapulnik to get an inside scoop.

M: First  off, the play has lots of Yiddsh in it. Does the audience need to know Yiddish?
K: No need to know any Yiddish. It is very clear what we are saying in Yiddish and then we switch to English.
M: I assume you don’t speak Yiddish. How did you get your tongue around the language?
K: I’m reading for David Pechenik, so I only have a handful of Yiddish lines and then I switch to English. The actress Janet Roth (reading for Lusia Pechenik), who is playing my wife, has most of the Yiddish. She’s a brilliant actress and a native German speaker, so making the transition to Yiddish was simple for her, since the two languages are similar. My grandparents spoke Yiddish when they didn’t want me to understand, so I had to listen intently and try to pick up words here and there, in order to eavesdrop. There are many funny phrases in Yiddish and it is full of humor. It is freeing making fun of our culture.
M: How do you make this kind of material relevant for you as an actor?
K: I feel so inspired to bring breath to these words, since these characters’ stories are part of my heritage. The stories from post World War II, all have similar themes and growing up around these stories, they feel very familiar to me. My grandfather would never talk about the war. It was taboo to bring any of it up. When I was in high school, I traveled to Poland to witness what was left of the concentration camps and work camps, and I wanted to get back and share those experiences with him, but of course he didn’t want to hear anything about it. So connecting to the material and feeling close to that era actually had me recall images, scents and the musicality of the Yiddish from my childhood.
M: Thanks for sharing. Break a leg!
K: Thank you.

Tickets and details at:


By Matt Piffer

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