Episode 30: The Plays of Edward de Vere

renaissance portrait of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, painted by an unknown painter
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Mark and Joe are joined by the Canadian actor, director, producer and playwright, Saul Rubinek.

They have a wide-ranging and educational conversation that they launch with the question: “Who was your favorite playwright.” Saul answers Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, whom he believes (along with many others) wrote all of Shakespeare’s plays.

“Even some of the most renowned academics have trouble accepting the evidence,” he says.

He’s done a one-man version of Merchant of Venice, and in the process researched the question; he’s a proponent of the idea.

Then the conversation moves into a discussion of an opportunity Saul had to play a Hasidic rabbi in a little village in 1941 Ukraine, called Shttl. (The Yiddish word for “village.”) It was a project that deeply connected him to his own family’s history.

He explains how he came to write the book, So Many Miracles, which is about how his Yiddish-speaking Jewish parents survived WWII.

It began as a ruse to get closer to his parents, who had a “biblical” reaction to him dating a non-Jewish woman. (There is also a documentary based on the story.)

They also discuss how Yiddish was Saul’s first language, which he learned in Montreal as a child. A fact that proved immensely valuable in his work in Shttl, and in his play, All In the Telling.

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Saul Rubinek has had a career that spans more than fifty years, filled with marvelous performances in hundreds of roles on stage, screen, radio and television, most recently in successful TV series such as Hunters, Schitt’s Creek, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

His latest film work is in Shttl. [He is pictured at right; he plays a Hasidic rabbi in the movie set in 1941 Ukraine.]

According to the Canadian Jewish News: “Acting in a fully Yiddish film was a first for the veteran Hollywood star, whose Jewish credits include Barney’s Version, Hunters and The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick. And shooting it in Ukraine, just before the Russian invasion, has imbued it with even heavier symbolism.”

It debuted at the Vancouver Jewish Film Festival in March, and had its Ontario opening in June at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival.

Get the book about his parents, So Many Miracles, and the documentary can be found here.

Learn more about Shttl at IMDB.

Saul Rubinek in costume as a rabbi in Ukraine, circa 1941

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