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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Actor's research

Scan this short article on Al Pacino in a Boro Park shul first.

Why on earth would you learn anything about Venetian Jews this way, 150+ years before Hasidism was invented somewhere else, and 350+ years before modern Ultra-Orthodoxy? So will we have another beard-stroking sidelocks-and-kaftan Shylock?

How about this:

New York - Dustin Hoffman, preparing for the role of Antonio in the Public Theater's upcoming production of "The Merchant of Venice," took his research into Queens this week, visiting a Yonggi Cho Pentecostal church in Flushing.

The actor made the trip with Barry Cheong, director of the Public's Shakespeare Initiative, to observe religious Italians in prayer and learn about the community.

Mr. Hoffman, bareheaded and dressed in a cheap greyish suit, stood at the back of the church and went unrecognized as he observed the Sunday prayer, said Mr. Cheong, who wouldn't name the church at the request of the friend who took them there.

As worshipers spoke in tongues, known as glossolalia, Mr. Cheong said he saw Mr. Hoffman slowly throwing his arms in the air with them, observing their movements.

"It was done with complete respect and a true sense of empathy," said Mr. Cheong.