Plays by Deborah Freeman

I have completed `Remedies,` a play about M E.  Background research...

Writing Groups

I am setting up a new writing group in East Finchley, to be held in the atmospheric location of an East Finchley...

Novels by Deborah Freeman

 A few years back. I answered an ad on the Radio 3 website, from the conceptual art company, Blast Theory...

Poems by Deborah Freeman

These appeared in the journal Jewish Renaissance, 2008.  `Fish.` `Fasting.` `Open a Gate for Us. ` `After the...

`Milim` in Leeds.

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I saw Mary Stuart, by Friedrich Schiller at The Almeida with the amazing Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams. As my time goes by, I am aware that stamina is not something I can take for granted. Actually, since my recovery years ago from two long episodes of a post-viral syndrome, I haven`t ever taken it for granted. When I watch something like Mary Stuart, my thoughts do dwell on stamina! Just how do they keep going, I ask myself, whether play, acting, direction, are good bad or indifferent! (In the case of this Almeida production, all the above were better than excellent.)

Then, always, I am drawn to consider the writing of a play, and in this case, to ask myself what might have happened in its translation and its adaptation. This show was adapted and directed by the same person, Robert Icke. Did he translate it first or work on another translation? What changed? 

The play took me back to my childhood, to memories of my paternal grandmother, Pere Yoffey, who lived with us in the last year of her life. Born in Lithuania to a family of Rabbis and talmudic scholars, she had received lilttle of their education, but instead had educated herself in the language of her beloved Germany. In the eighteen nineties, when she migrated with her family to Manchester, she was (at first,) disappointed. When German books were withdrawn from Manchester libraries in 1914, she was heartbroken. I remember her in our dining room in Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, (in 1960)  reciting long verses from Goethe, and from Schiller. Strange - both playwrights. 

Did Elizabeth the First, or Mary Queen of Scots recite something i had once heard, albeit unknowingly! 

I have been taken back to childhood for another reason this week. I am preparing a talk which I will give at the new Leeds festival of Jewish literature and writing. `Milim`. Hebrew for words. (March 15th, Leeds Central Library.) Preparing my talk about the significance of being a Jewish writer, writing in English, I recalled a tale my mother told about myself aged 5. I was given a lift to my new school, Redland High School for girls, where there were almost no other Jewish children. The kind lady driving me, I was told later, chatted to me, and asked, among other things: Do you believe in fairies? After serious thought, I replied: No. We`re Jewish you see. 

 

 

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