Yiddish Shakespeare: 'Romeo and Juliet', Translation and American Independent Cinema

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This article examines the ways in which t Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish (dir. Eve Annenberg, 2011), a film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, addresses itself simultaneously to a Yiddish-speaking demographic and a wider US audience not only via a mixing of languages but also through the operations of the subtitle. The film accesses Yiddish from a wide range of perspectives, deploying language, Jewish rituals, Yiddish language klezmer music and tradition to underscore the relevancies of Shakespeare’s text to ex-Orthodox constituencies. Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish places in the spotlight a relatively unknown dimension of New York culture, and one that deserves attention, not least because the film politicises the plight of its dispossessed subjects inside discourses of Jewish identity and diaspora. Translating Romeo and Juliet thus, Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish expands our sense of what an American cinematic Shakespeare might be. It enables reflection on the complexions of contemporary Judaism and stimulates a more nuanced awareness of secular and Orthodox relations in early twenty-first century America.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-97
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Early online date12 Oct 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 12 Oct 2021


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