Discovering and Documenting England’s Lost Jews is researching and celebrating Sephardi Jews in England. In July 2020 Pascal Theatre will be producing an Education Pack, Documentary and ONE LOST STONE – is a multi-media online resource inspired by Sephardi heritage in England.
Following the UK Government’s guidelinesPascal Theatre Company’s project Discovering and Documenting Lost Jews continues online.
We plan to engage and entertain you with our ambitious and interactive installation on 5th July. We will be hosting interactive workshops for young people and those of all ages.
We look forward to welcoming you in to our activities as soon as possible.
For more information please see https://www.lostjews.org.uk/
Interviewing Skills for Oral History and Podcasting Workshop
Discovering & Documenting England’s Lost Jews is a huge adventure into mapping different histories and finding connections. Using these discoveries we are creating a site-responsive performance, One Lost Stone, that will premiere on 22 September 2019 at Novo Cemetery, in the grounds of Queen Mary University of London, Mile End campus. And on 16 June, we are running a free drama workshop that will help originate this new work, and we would like to invite you to join us.
So, what are we discovering? Julia Pascal, Pascal Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, and her team of researchers, have been trawling through seventeenth century documents to read about Jews fleeing conversion in Spain and Portugal, and about Jews being burnt at the stake as heretics to the Christian faith. It is a bloody story, but it is not just a Jewish one. It tells us about Catholic Spain and Portugal and how the power of the Inquisition was a terrible force which meant that Jews were displaced all over the world. The English story comes in to play when Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel approaches Oliver Cromwell in his plea for the re-admittance of the Jews. Officially, England had no Jews after 1290 as England was the first European country to expel them.
“I have been excited to discover that the English Revolution of 1656, when the Republic began, was also the moment when Jews were being thought of as new immigrants.”
We are discovering the wealth of that Jewish experience that trickled into England from 1492. The languages of Ladino and Portuguese were the cultures of these Jews. Their survival in London is charted, and we have stories and names that reveal this amazing history.
Our workshop on 16 June will be exploring some of the major figures of the story. Who knew that Licoricia was a major funder of royalty in the thirteenth century and one of the richest women in Winchester? There are many characters to explore in the workshop which will be revealing some of the great debates of philosopher Baruch Spinoza and Moses Maimonides.
Using drama and movement techniques, Thomas Kampe will lead participants in playfully revealing the histories and stories we’ve uncovered. In experimenting with staging Sephardi heritage, participants will not only gain historical knowledge but also learn enjoyable ways to create new text and storytelling using this kind of source material. They can also take part in the journey towards using the workshop as inspiration for our site-responsive performance on 22 September 2019.
The workshop is FREE and open to all ages (although not suitable for the very young), backgrounds and abilities. For more information and to book your place go to our Eventbrite page.
Are you curious? Are you well organised? Are you interested in undertaking research? Would you like to contribute to our project?
Discovering & Documenting England’s Lost Jews delves into the heritage of the Sephardim who have settled in this country since the 17th century. A vital part of our project focuses on researching aspects of this exciting history. We will be looking into key political events of an English state turned upside down by Oliver Cromwell at a time of fervent religious debate.
Questions we will ask are what was it like to be a Sephardi Jew – secretly or openly – in a country that had known no Jews for centuries? What did the Jews find in England? What did the English make of the Jews who arrived? What did the Jews bring with them to the host society? What language did the Jews speak when they fled persecution by the Catholic Inquisition? And we need your help to find the answers.
We will explore how the Jewish communities, who trickled in to England, gradually led to their acceptance as citizens. Elements of our research will be fed in to our site-specific performance One Lost Stone on 22 September at Novo Cemetery. Our discoveries will also inform our programme of educational workshops.
Our drama workshop at Bevis Marks Synagogue in February 2019 exploring the English history taught in many schools and the significant dates and events included in historical timelines.
Eight historical moments are key to our research:
- Historical antecedent: the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290.
- The Sephardi exodus: expulsion and departure of Jews from Spain and Portugal at the end of the 15th century.
- The tiny community of secret Jews (crypto-Jews) in England during the 16th and earlier 17th centuries.
- The circumstances around the re-admittance of Jews in the 1650s.
- The slow growth of the Sephardi community following re-admittance, in the second half of the 17th century.
- The Jewish Naturalisation Act 1753, and its subsequent repeal.
- Sephardi Jews prominent in 19th century British society.
- The 20th century wave of ‘new’ Sephardi immigration.
If you are interested in volunteering or would like to know more about this, please contact Stéphane Goldstein, at email@example.com.
A word from Julia Pascal, Artistic Director of Pascal Theatre Company:
I am delighted to announce that Pascal Theatre Company has been successful in securing funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for our new project:
DISCOVERING AND DOCUMENTING ENGLAND’S LOST JEWS
I am a playwright and theatre director who is fascinated by how we view national and international narratives about ourselves and our family histories.
Sephardi Jews left Spain and Portugal to find refuge around the Mediterranean basin, including in the Ottoman Empire. They settled and lived for centuries in the countries we now know as Morocco, Algeria, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Bosnia and Bulgaria. Most of them absorbed the local culture and lived with a double heritage.
Part of the excitement of our journey is learning about how these different waves of displacement influenced English life over the centuries and also today. This includes the experience of Jews who came from Arab countries where many lived peacefully alongside Muslims. As well as examining the Cromwellian and post Republican English history, the project will look at new immigrants – Jews arriving with elements of Arabic cultures in their histories.
I invite you to come with us.
There are many ways in which you can get involved:
On the 20th, 27th January and 3rd February we are running free morning drama workshops at Bevis Marks synagogue exploring three different aspects of Sephardi history and culture. The workshops include a tour of the synagogue. You can find out more information and book your tickets on our workshop page. Tickets are limited so book quickly.
We will also be looking for volunteers to help us document Sephardi oral histories and to participate in a site-specific public installation at the Novo Cemetery, London. This installation will be the premiere of a new work written by me and others involved in the initiative as a response to the stories and histories we’ve uncovered. Sign up to our mailing list to ensure you’re first with the news on how to get involved.
During our September installation, we are inviting four speakers to explore their varied experience of this little known history.
For more information visit our website: www.lostjews.org.uk, sign up to the mailing list, follow us on social media and through #LostJews, or contact Pascal Theatre Company on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to sharing what we uncover.