Nick Cassenbaum’s folk history of a once vibrant culture and insight into a fading community comes to Slung Low’s HUB in Leeds on 7 May and Huddersfield’s Laurence Batley Theatre on 8 May.
Bubbemeises is Yiddish for a grandmother’s story, a tall story, an old wives’ tale. A schvitz is a Jewish Steam Bath where old Jewish men go to wash, relax, complain and rejuvenate, to exchange jokes and gossip and to swap bubbemeisis.
Writer and street performer Nick Cassenbaum has been trying to make sense of his Jewish identity ever since he was a young boy. He tried everything – going to Spurs, summer camps, religion even. All to no avail.
It wasn’t until his blind grandfather took him to the Schvitz in Canning Town, East London that he found what he was looking for. Here they enact the ancient washing ritual of schmeissing, and, as he lay naked being schmeissed by his grandfather, he knew he had found what he was looking for, but above all, he knew he had to make a show about it.
In Bubble Schmeisis Nick and his klezmer musicians invite you to join them in the enveloping warmth of this last remaining authentic bath house in East London. Amongst the steam and ritual Nick will take you with him as he embarks on a journey schlepping through summer camps, barbershops and Spurs games to find the place where he belongs. It’s about Nick finding his identity and wanting to keep the spirit of the steam baths alive.
A hit with critics and audiences at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival, Bubble Schmeisis is full of intimate and personal true stories about identity, home and getting washed by old men. Although set within a Jewish ritual the show will strike a chord with anyone who has investigated their past to understand their present.
‘It’s just a place that’s all about sitting together,” said Nick of the schvitz. ‘It’s a place where men talk freely and frankly. I tell stories about trying to forge my identity’ he continued. ‘This is the only place where I really felt some kind of identity – it felt like home. Now I’m really excited to be taking it out to new audiences. I invite them onto the stage with me and interact so the show changes depending on how those people respond, leaving no two performances the same.’
Watch the trailer: http://www.nickcassenbaum.com/bubble-schmeisis
7 May, 7pm
Leeds Slung Low’s HUB, Holbeck Underground Ballroom 67-71 Bath Rd Holbeck LS11 9UA
£pay what you can www.slunglow.org
8 May, 7.45pm
Huddersfield Lawrence Batley Theatre, Queen’s Square, Queen Street, HD1 2SP
£pay what you can 01484 430528 www.thelbt.org