For Immediate Release
Abe Cohen, 212.494.0050
Will the Culture Editor of The New York Times, Whose Previous Job Was Dining Editor, Stop Defaming the Name of The Jewish Theater of New York with Ages-old Anti-Semitic Trash of "Degenerate Art"?
Responding to claims by The Jewish Theater of New York that editors at The New York Times engage in censorship by barring their critics from reviewing our current show, Mr. Sam Sifton, the Culture Editor of the Times, started a childish and ugly campaign against our theater. Behaving like a classic lowlife bully, the former Managing Editor of New York Press and Dining Editor of the Times, who miraculously got the job of Culture Editor, told the New York Post that the Times refuses to review the theater's works because the theater "has been putting on substandard work for more than a decade and was showing no sign of improvement." Sam Sifton, so it seems, would like New Yorkers to believe that our theater never received a decent review from the Times. To spice it up a bit, Mr. S.S. added some disgusting comments, mafioso style, about our Artistic Director, Mr. Tuvia Tenenbom.
Like the good, old racists of ages past who loved to engage in selective quoting of the Bible to prove the lower qualities of the Jews, Mr. Sifton seems adept at his own selective quoting. He would like you to believe that the Jewish Theater has put on substandard work for the past decade, but is he selling you the truth? Not according to reviews by The New York Times' own critics. To refresh the memory of the Sam Siftons of the world, we take the extra step of quoting some Times' reviews of our shows:
"Irresistibly fascinating, poignant, very effective, emotionally explosive, seductive and engaging." D.J.R. Bruckner, reviewing FATHER OF THE ANGELS.
"A buoyant play...whose lessons outweigh its laughter." Lawrence van Gelder, reviewing BEGGAR OF BOROUGH PARK
"Skin crawling." Peter Marks, reviewing LOVE LETTERS TO ADOLF HITLER.
"Effectively satiric, provocative and expertly acted." Anita Gates, reviewing THE LAST VIRGIN.
And only last September, covering one of our shows in Germany, the Times called it "bluntly satirical" and eloquently mentioned its "successful run in New York."
If Mr. Sam Sifton could only read...
Not that we expect very much of him, given his former job as dining editor. Understanding the difference between rare and medium steak doesn't necessarily make you a maven on the differences between substandard and high culture. Many people know how to eat well, not all of them are genius. But even if he's no genius and we can't blame him for talents he doesn't have, we nevertheless can expect of him not to engage in chronic lies--which sadly he so shamelessly does.
As you might expect , this is not his first lie. Mr. Sifton, so it seems, has conveniently forgotten his own comments to the New York Post on March 21, 2007. Responding to our accusation that the Times is engaging in a boycott against our theater by refusing to review LAST JEW IN EUROPE in March, Mr. Sifton flatly denied "any boycott," claiming that no review appears of LAST JEW IN EUROPE because "there's simply no room for them all."
How fast the story changes! Mr. Sifton should better memorize his own comments and compare the different versions before he makes any of them public; and if he's bipolar, he should consult a psychiatrist soon--we're sure the Times has a nice benefits package.
Moving on, what about our current "substandard" show? Critics who have actually bothered to see the show don't exactly think that it's substandard at all. Corriere della Sera, Italy's leading daily, reviewed LAST JEW IN EUROPE and this is what they had to say: "Soul-penetrating comedy of errors by one of the most iconoclastic and innovative of contemporary dramatists." Haaretz, Israel's prestigious daily, called it "Flammable Jewish soap opera." Yedioth Ahronot, Israel's leading daily, called it "an amazing show." Theaterheute, Germany's venerated theater magazine, called it "first rate comedic farce."
But, of course, what do they know? Only Sam Sifton and Rick Lyman (the theater editor who started the boycott against us), both of whom never visited our theater, know what's good for you and your soul.
To understand the philosophy of the new Lords of Culture, S.S. and R.L., follow these simple rules:
First and foremost, Obey us. We got power. Behave well, do the shows that we like--kinda bash Bush one more time--and we'll cover you. Anti-Semitism? Give us a fucking break! Who the hell cares?! Write about things that we like. Period. And do make sure that it's done to our liking and taste. As you go along, you must show "signs of improvement," or we'll make you stand at the corner. Don't ever forget you stupid, substandard artists: You must always please us. Because if some of our critics don't like what you've got to say, watch out: We are going to bury you alive. Make one mistake and you're out. We've got more venom in us than the Pope of Rome. The masses follow us; if you don't straighten the line, we're going to erect a wall of silence around your artistic work. And if you open your mouth in protest, we're going to spread lies about you; truth doesn't matter to us. Try fighting us; you'll lose before you start. We know about food and we've got muscles, so be warned!
Plain and simple, what S.S. and R.L. want is blind obedience. Nothing less will do. To us, this sounds utterly ridiculous. And their smear campaign is mind bogging at best. The last time people engaged in such campaigns was during the Nazi regime of not so long ago. In those days, they had a peculiar term they liked to use: Degenerate Art. Sam and Rick prefer Substandard Art. Interesting.
To our mind, their behavior is chutzpah at its highest. A thought-police in the heart of Manhattan. Simply unbelievable.
The Jewish Theater of New York
PS: For previous release, press HERE.