Kaplan, Beth 1950–
Kaplan, Beth 1950–
Born 1950, in New York, NY; daughter of Jacob Gordin (a biologist) and Sylvia Mary Kaplan; children: two. Education: London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, undergraduate degree, c. 1972; University of British Columbia, M.F.A.
Writer and educator. Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, instructor in memoir and personal essay writing, 1995. Worked as a professional actress during the 1970s.
Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition prize, 1994, for Gordin in America.
Finding the Jewish Shakespeare: The Life and Legacy of Jacob Gordin, Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including Globe and Mail.
Beth Kaplan's first book, Finding the Jewish Shakespeare: The Life and Legacy of Jacob Gordin, began in 1982 as a thesis for her M.F.A. degree from the University of British Columbia. Gordin was Kaplan's great-grandfather and is considered to be one of the most eminent Yiddish playwrights of the modern era. Kaplan's thesis also includes Gordin's biography as well as commentary on his continuing legacy. After the project was completed, Kaplan felt compelled to further research Gordin's life, and spent the next twenty years compiling information from Yiddish texts before publishing Finding the Jewish Shakespeare. In a review of the book for All about Jewish Theatre, Carly Kaufman noted that Kaplan's "writing captures not just the events of his life, but also brings out Jacob Gordin's true persona." A reviewer for the Midwest Book Review found the biography to be "rich with nuanced detail." "Engaging and informative" was how Booklist reviewer George Cohen described the book, pointing out that Kaplan "brings the man and his creative work to life."
The daughter of a New York Jew and a British gentile, Kaplan has written numerous personal essays discussing her continuing journey to unite her disparate identities. In one article published in Pakn Treger, Kaplan remarked: "Though there is great charm in my mother's heritage of pastoral villages, stern Victorian grannies, and English eccentrics, I am drawn to my father's family's tales. I love the lush, dark flow of the Russian language; the stories of Elizavet grad and Odessa, Tolstoy and tsars, shtetls and pogroms, and the painful steamer trip from one century to another, from the precarious comfort of home to a rich, indifferent land. My years of research have shown me, at last, where I belong: to writing and the theater. To the Shakespeare of the Jews."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2007, George Cohen, review of Finding the Jewish Shakespeare: The Life and Legacy of Jacob Gordin, p. 14.
Pakn Treger, fall, 2004, Beth Kaplan, "The Family Kaplan."
All about Jewish Theatre,http://www.jewish-theatre.com/ (October 11, 2007), Carly Kaufman, review of Finding the Jewish Shakespeare.
Beth Kaplan Home Page,http://www.bethkaplan.ca (October 11, 2007).
Midwest Book Review,http://www.midwestbookreview.com/ (August, 2007), review of Finding the Jewish Shakespeare.