This Saturday, July 16, internationally acclaimed photographer Penny Wolin gives an audiovisual lecture introducing an exhibit based on her newest book, “Descendants of Light: American Photographers of Jewish Ancestry,” presented by Jewish Women’s Theatre at The Braid Art and Performance Space.

For the past 25 years, Wolin has paired photographic portraits with oral interviews while researching Jewish civilization in America. Why have so many great photographic storytellers, from Alfred Stieglitz to Annie Leibovitz, been Jewish? That’s the question Wolin ponders.

Selected silver-gelatin prints will be on display at the Art Gallery from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by a (ticketed) reception at 6:45 p.m. and lecture at 7:30 p.m. Books will be available throughout the evening and Wolin will sign and inscribe them.

Over eight years of road trips, Wolin interviewed more than 70 photographers, from Helen Levitt and Jo Ann Callis to Robert Frank and Annie Leibovitz, creating original black and white photos of these artists. Then she re-photographed their heirloom ancestral pictures dating as far back as the 1850s and reproduces important images from each photographer’s own work.

The Braid Art and Performance Space is located at 2912 Colorado Ave; exhibit is free, tickets for opening reception and lecture are $30.

Tickets at View the exhibition Tuesdays through Thursdays, 1 to 5 p.m. or call (310) 315-1400 for an appointment to visit.

Exagoge: Ancient Play Revived

The tale of the Exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt is familiar to Bible readers and anyone who’s celebrated Passover.

But in the second century BC, a play by Ezekiel the Poet wrote “Exagoge,” considered the first recorded Jewish play; it’s believed to have been written in Alexandria and tells the Exodus story in the style of a Greek tragedy.

Less than a quarter of the play’s length — only 269 lines — from the original exist. Director and playwright Aaron Henne of Theatre Dybbuk used this fragment to recreate a full theatrical work, with music, poetry, classical masks, stylized movement and a diverse cast.

With the help of The Harmony Project Leimert Park Choir, and weaving modern day narratives of refugee and immigrant experiences, Henne’s script offers a multi-layered production with action shifting back and forth from the biblical era to the contemporary world.

“Exagoge” is touring throughout Los Angeles. On July 23, it will be performed at Grand Park, across from The Music Center downtown; and on August 6, see it here on the Westside at UCLA Fowler Museum. Showtime is at 8 p.m., and performances are free to the public.

For more information, visit

Ruskin’s ‘A Raisin In The Sun’

Renowned African-American poet Langston Hughes famously described “a dream deferred” as “drying up like a raisin in the sun.”

One of the most acclaimed plays in the American canon, Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” is the story of the Younger family of Chicago, as they decide what to do with an insurance settlement following the death of their patriarch. Written in 1959, it depicts life for blacks in 1950s Chicago and America; it was honored with the New York Critics’ Circle Award for best play.

Against all the odds the Youngers face, whose dream will be realized? Will it be a new house, the dream that Lena “Mama” Younger shared with her late husband? Will it be son Walter Lee’s, to open a liquor store? Or Beneatha, the daughter’s, desire to go to medical school?

Ultimately they confront the racism of the era as they attempt to buy a house in an all-white neighborhood. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In 2014, a revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” starring Denzel Washington won Tony Awards for direction, best revival of a play and featured actress in a play. And in 2004, Phylicia Rashad made history as first African American to win the Tony for best leading actress in a play. It was made into a film in 1961, starring Sidney Poitier.

Although actress Starletta DuPois is renowned for countless film and TV, roles, she has the distinction of being the rare performer who has portrayed all three female roles in “A Raisin in the Sun.”

She starred as Ruth Younger (Walter’s wife) in the much-lauded 1989 PBS production opposite Danny Glover, winning an NAACP Image Award; and in Manchester, England in 2010, she was awarded for her role as Lena “Mama” Younger opposite Sean P Diddy Combs.

Ms. DuPois returns as Mama in the Ruskin Group Theatre’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” opening on July 22. Veteran theatre performer, singer/songwriter and playwright, Lita Gaithers Owens (also a Tony Award nominee) is the director.

I’ll be speaking to Ms. DuPois in an upcoming column. Meantime, get tickets here: (310) 397-3244 and Ruskin Group Theatre is located at 3000 Airport Ave. Santa Monica.  Performances run Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through September 17.

Silents Are Golden

Bring a picnic, grab a friend, and enjoy sunset overlooking the Pacific at the Villa Aurora in Pacific Palisades. Then enjoy the 1917 silent film, “Poor Little Rich Girl,” starring Mary Pickford.

Accompanied by live organ, this groundbreaking film that Pickford’s producers did not want to release became a huge hit as she played a rambunctious, plucky girl for the first time.

Tickets are $10 for Villa Aurora members, $15 for general admission on

Now a home for international artists in residence, The Villa stands as a memorial to artists and intellectuals who found refuge from Nazi persecution and had tremendous impact on the cultural life of Los Angeles.

Sarah A. Spitz spent her career as a producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica and produced freelance arts reports for NPR. She has also written features and reviews for various print and online publications. Email her at

Photo credit: Penny Wolin, Descendants of Light