Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Join us for this year’s Purim shpil, produced by the Aftselakhis Spectacle Committee in cahoots with Jews for Racial & Economic Justice and Great Small Works:
Matryoshka Purim: Loops, Lots, & Consequence
Thursday, March 28th: JFREJ Purim shpil Preview Show 5779
Matryoshka Purim: Loops, Lots, & Consequence

7:30-10 PM at East Midwood Jewish Center, Brooklyn
A more intimate, expedited version of the show. Lots of seating available. Music from the legendary Purim house band. Be among the first in the known universe to ever see this shpil!
Saturday, March 30th: JFREJ Purim shpil 5779
Matryoshka Purim: Loops, Lots, & Consequence

8:00 PM - 3AM at East Midwood Jewish Center, Brooklyn
A ritually confusing masquerade ball, with the Purimshpil at the center of it joined by our legendary Purim House Band. Our endlessly fun and confusing party bring you a shpil in 3 acts and dazzles throughout the night with live bands and DJ sets. Come dressed up to build political imagination and solidarity with you, your best enemies and friends.
For kids, don’t forget to join our other two Kids Defend NYC Purim events:
Sunday March 24th: Purim Art Party & #NeighborsBeyondAmazon Parade
2:30-5:30 PM at Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, Queens
Sunday, March 31st Kids Defend NYC: A Purim Carnival
2-5 PM at East Midwood Jewish Center, Brooklyn
To volunteer for the Purimshpil, please fill out this form.
To volunteer for either of the Kids Defend NYC Purim events, please email Jen Abrams.
For access questions please check out Facebook page and website or contact Anna Jacobs Tafjacobs@gmail.com for specific questions.
Our Purim creative process is uniquely community-based and community-driven. We have reason to believe that it’s the largest and most participatory multi leftist medium Purim shpil anywhere in the world, and one of the largest in New York City overall. For all of our meetings, builds, rehearsals, and performances, we provide food, childcare, wheelchair-accessible spaces, and Metrocards for travel to those who are part of the events' creation. 
The Aftselakhis (Yiddish: In Spite Of) Spectacle Committee —  originally gathered under the tutelage of visionary Yiddish scholar and beloved Diva Adrienne Cooper (z'l) — works with hundreds of activists, artists, educators, queers, kids, and community volunteers to make an original work of art grounded in the traditional pan-Jewish practice of dressing up and staging transgressive folk plays in the cold day and long nights of winter.
Please join us! 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Great Small Works at YIVO Children's Day

John Bell, Trudi Cohen and Joseph Therrien will perform "Lyzer the Miser," a tabletop puppet show based on the story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Check out how clever Todie tricks the greedy Lyzer into learning a lesson about generosity! We will perform at 11:00, 11: 45 and 12:30. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011

Admission: Free
Join us for the YIVO Institute’s annual Children’s Day, where visitors of all ages will enjoy a wonderful selection of Purim-themed activities and performances. This program will have something for everybody: sing-alongs of Yiddish folk staples (led by one of YIVO's own sound-archivists, Eléonore Biezunski), a magic show led by Shane Baker, a puppet show based on a play by Isaac Bashevis SingerLyzer the Miser, by Great Small Works, and more surprises to be announced soon! The Gefilteria will be offering delicious Purim-themed treats. Enjoy a festive morning celebrating our wonderful and diverse cultural heritage here on West 16th Street. 

Friday, January 25, 2019


Purim Launch Farbrengen  
Sunday Jan 27 noon (food schmooze) 1-6 program
This is the beginning of the community knowledge-sharing and design process.

Our Purimspiel is March 30th, and the Farbrengen is the start of an intense community process of carnival creation. We will learn together from honored guest scholars, organizers and artists. There will be food and music.

Come and hear the brilliance of 
Michael Manswell and Sandra Bell artistic directors of Something Positive Dance Theater, and some next generation colleagues from Pagwah Mas, a leading cultural force in Brooklyn’s Carnival J'ourvert, will reflect on the work of Claudia Jones (1915-1964) a pioneering Afro Caribbean radical intellectual, the politics of carnival, and the current context of Brooklyn’s Jouvert.

Sneak Preview Torah study session by the People’s Beis Midrash/ Jewish Currents on the theme of “Antisemitism & Capitalism. ” “The People’s Beis Midrash format is inspired by the Jewish studyhouse culture of intensive partnered study of complex texts supported by expert teachers. Our teachers will be teachers and scholars from across many fields of Jewish and leftist expertise.”

Arielle Korman shares songs and and liturgy she’s written for Jewish Women of Color Marching as well as cultural work she’s doing with Ugnayan on Hate Free Zones and No Amazon NYC.

We will begin to gather at 12. The program begins at 1pm.

The Maple Street School
21 Lincoln Rd.
Brooklyn, NY 11225
Q train to Prospect Park
Exit at the Lincoln Road side and the school will be on your right.

Accessibility notes:
Prospect Park station has an elevator. The space is ramped. The Farbrengen space is nut-free.

Childcare: plan is still forming, if there is a chance you will bring a young one with you please email purimspectaclenyc@gmail.com.
If ASL or another language interpretation would help you to access this event, please email purimspectaclenyc@gmail.com
If you have other specific access needs that would help you to be able to attend, please email us at purimspectaclenyc@gmail.com. We can't guarantee we can meet them but will make every effort and let you know what's possible

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Saturday, December 29, 2018
7:30 PM

Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South
New York City

Help us celebrate the end of 2018 and dreams for 2019!
We will eat, sing and dance together.

Tickets: $20 sliding scale – no one turned away for lack of funds
Info: 917-319-8104
No advance sales – all ticketing at the door.


The Grizzly Boys and Friends
The Church of Everything for Everyone presents:
Bing-Bong – A Strange Ritual for You and Your Loved Ones

"Golden Age" – Jewish cantorial music, new and old
Cantor, keyboardist and composer Judith Berkson, Klezmer clarinetist Michael Winograd and drummer/sound designer Jason Nazar

Drag Performance Artist Miz Jade

Lush Tongue: Audience-Interactive Vocal Enchantment
Community enchantment with a repertoire of songs, mantras, vocal improvisation, and circle singing with the audience.

Mor Erlich and Jenny Romaine
3,6,9, The Goose Drank Wine
from the SEZ ME hand-painted scroll and sing-along division

Balkan Brass Music with Sarah Ferholt, Nick Mauro, Jessica Lurie, Jason Hicks, Lily Paulina, George Rush, Patrick Farrell and Chris Schroth

Funding made possible in part by:
Puppet Slam Network, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Puffin Foundation, Doctorow Family Foundation, Scherman Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Jenny Romaine Designs "Soul Songs: Inspiring Women of Klezmer"


The Philadelphia Folklore Project presents Soul Songs: Inspiring Women Of Klezmer, a world premiere, one-night-only special event. Eleven extraordinary women breathe contemporary life into the centuries-old tradition of Eastern European Jewish folk music. Great Small Works’ Jenny Romainedesigns the stage spectacle to bring to life the musical vision of trumpeter Susan Watts.

October 28, 2018

Zellerbach Theatre | Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
3680 Walnut Street 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Tickets: $29-$49 
www.annenbergcenter.org or by calling 215.898.3900 

The brainchild of fourth generation klezmer musician and concert artistic director Susan Watts, SOUL SONGS: INSPIRING WOMEN OF KLEZMER was created from the world-renowned trumpeter’s concern for the future of her art and appreciation of every individual involved. After all, Watts represents the youngest generation of an important klezmer dynasty reaching back to the Jewish Ukraine of the 19th century, and beginning with her great-grandfather, bandleader, composer, and cornet-player, Joseph Hoffman. The Hoffman family played for generations of Philadelphia-area Jewish weddings and parties, and their music became part of a distinctly Philadelphia klezmer repertoire. Watts is the sole living purveyor of the family’s traditional klezmer-style trumpet sounds, which have electrified Jewish American audiences in and around Philadelphia for decades.

“’Soul Songs’ is about the old and new intertwined,” says Watts, a 2015 Pew Fellow. “It is future provoking, intuitive, grass roots. ‘Soul Songs’ is about these women’s musical journeys, their artistry and their discernment to use the force of adversity to their gain. It is the klezmer of today and a prelude to future possibilities for the art and the communities it nurtures.”

SOUL SONGS: INSPIRING WOMEN OF KLEZMER will feature new compositions, written and performed by three generations of women who bring contemporary meaning to this traditional Eastern European Jewish folk music form. Watts has assembled a stellar group of “Inspiring Women of Klezmer,” including violinists Alicia Svigals, Cookie Segelstein and Deborah Strauss, pianist Marilyn Lerner, clarinetists Zoe Christiansen and Ilene Stahl, trombonist Rachel Lemisch, accordionist Lauren Brody, flute player Adrianne Greenbaum and bassist Joanna Sternberg.

Working with Watts to fully realize her vision of “Soul Songs” as a true stage spectacle is Great Small Works founding member Jenny Romaine.

“Soul Songs is about this powerful orchestra, and I’m in awe of it,” says Romaine. “It’s a women composer’s orchestra, and that is interesting to me in that each woman is like a world and each is also a virtuosic player. Susan did these great interviews with all of the women: she asked them all the same questions. And each one’s answers were surprising. If you want to understand what’s happening in the music, the future and the past, you need to look at women. And very often, in many fields, they’re underrepresented, and that happens because we live in big structural systems of oppression all the time.”

 “The spectacle for me is like drugs for the eyes without the drugs,” says Romaine. “You’ve got to make the audience say ‘Wow.’ But it’s not spectacle for spectacle’s sake, because the music is so soulful. There’s such charm. The way I go about it is as an assortment of different elements that will then explode in this beauty. There needs to be transformation. We’ve kept the focus on the music, but we’ve used the interviews, thinking, too, about the title of a given musical piece, the mood, and the flow of the whole concert.”

“Philly is one of the great centers of Klezmer music in our hemisphere,” notes Romaine. “Many artists came here in the early 20th century. They belonged to musician families that played ritual music and carried a large repertoire of secular music, too. So Philly was a place where both secular and ritual Yiddish music could evolve. Some of the Soul Songs musicians, like Susan, and Rachel Lemisch, are descendants of these Klezmer dynasties. That’s one part of the spectacle—the Philly roots. So we’re trying to represent Philly soul and how you get there, through color, light, word, costume and sculpture.

“The audience will experience all those things happening at once, and really be able to listen to the music and feel all the facets within it. Because this is like a bunch of champagne bubbles in a giant champagne glass. Each one of these women is a divine musician, and she’s connected to something really, really, big, or a really, really, long whole legacy.

“I feel like these women are priests, without the rigmarole. They’re not telling you how to live. They’re just creating the lubricant. They’re creating the stuff that will enable the machine to keep running. That’s the soul. It’s that thing that makes a way when there’s no way, the water that gets through and wears a hole in the rocks. They’re leaders. Artists are leaders. Some people like to go to museums, some people go to a house of worship, some people go to a university, some of us go to a concert. And we’ll be thrilled and entertained, but I also think we’ll be taken to a really important level that we need right now.”

The performance is made possible with support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Spaghetti Dinner at Puppet Fringe NYC

the Great Small Works Spaghetti Dinner
is proud to present 
a Late-Night Cabaret
at the first-ever International Puppet Fringe NYC Festival!

Friday, August 10, 2018
Spaghetti at 10:30PM in the outdoor Puppet Lounge
Cabaret at 11:00PM sharp


Lu Liu and Harrison Greene will perform music combining guitar and traditional Chinese pipa to string together two cultures and create original songs. 

Jenny Romaine excerpts from 
The Revival of the Uzda Grave Diggers: Part 2  

Between the bundist bootmakers of Minsk and the dashing sash weavers of Slutsk, there were the Gravediggers and Gardeners of UZDA.  Once a musar town in Yiddish Lite, now a sleepy shtetl in Belarus, UZDA is home to two adjacent cemeteries, one Jewish and one Muslim Tatar. This excerpt is phase 2 of project by theater director Jenny Romaine, singer/songwriter/accordionist/novelist Geoff Berner and translator Ben Kline, who followed their curiosity about the lost memories and folkways of the Gravediggers and Gardeners of UZDA and the central role of Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Pagan funeral professionals, all living together in the primeval forest for hundred and hundreds of years.  

Paradox Teatro
Sofía Padilla and Davey T Steinman

In light of expanding border walls around the globe, Migraciones follows the voyage of refugees as they travel through sand, water and shadows, in search of a new home. Paradox Teatro is a collaboration between artists from México and the United States, communicating across cultures with puppetry, music, and poetry in English and Spanish.

Kathleen Kennedy Tobin
Turn Out Your Dead, New York Harbor, 1781
Sketch for Hulk and Fleet
Excerpt from work-in-progress puppet show about prison ships. 

Nick Knave
Outlaw puppeteer, storyteller, horror guru – direct from San Francisco.

Funding for Spaghetti Dinners made possible in part by the Puppet Slam Network; NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; NY State Council on the Arts; Scherman Foundation; Doctorow Family Foundation; and Puffin Foundation.  Thank you!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Second Annual East Village Iftar and Spaghetti Garden Party

Friday, June 1, 2018
La Plaza Cultural Community Garden
9th Street and Avenue C, NYC

Dinner after sunset at 8:30
Admission: $15 sliding scale (no one turned away for lack of funds)
All ticket sales on site.
Info:  917-319-8104


Ramadan-inspired poets grove including poet SaaliSI and songs by Mariam Bazeed

Great Small Works’ historic “The True Story of Charas” cantastoria

"Pari Banu, Ravi Ahu," a remix of Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed, performed by SaaliSI.


IFTAR is the meal that Muslims eat after sunset during Ramadan to break the day’s fast. It is one of the ceremonial observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together.

Fasting starts at sunrise and ends at sunset. During this time Muslims abstain from food, water, and also wrongful acts like backbiting, fighting, and violence. The meal traditionally starts with water and a date when the adhaan (call to prayer) signifying the end of the fast begins. 

Woman shadow puppeteer Lotte Reiniger's 1926 oldest surviving animated feature film The Adventures of Prince Achmed uses a silhouette animation technique Reiniger invented which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera. The technique is similar to Wayang shadow puppets, though hers were animated frame by frame, not manipulated in live action. Her work is important to the development of (western) shadow puppetry and film animation in general.  

The story is based on elements taken from One Thousand and One Nights, specifically "The Story of Prince Achmed and the Fairy Paribanou."

SaaliSi will play a live sound track to accompany an excerpt from Reiniger’s film.


Funding made possible in part by the Puppet Slam Network, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Doctorow Family Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, and the NY State Council on the Arts.