Life & Culture

Enjoy queer cabaret with Chanukah Lewinsky

For one night only, genderqueer Reform Jew will take to the stage as Chanukah Lewinsky


Shabby suitcases will shroud the stage as Dex Grodner, the star of the one-person show Chanukah Lewinsky: 120 years from Grodno, pieces together Jewish history in an hour-long performance that fuses queer cabaret, live art, poetry and campy melodrama.

Clad in flamboyant, Yiddish-inspired makeup, with “curly Jewish hair” and a costume that will resemble “a mix of a strong campy-drag aesthetic and a modest Jewish one,”  Grodner says the show will be “everything a Jewish night could need.

“The set revolves around old luggage; a lot of it is stuff I’ve found on the street, outside construction sites or people’s houses. I want it to reflect the physical and historic baggage that we, as Jews, have carried with us,” says the 23-year-old genderqueer Reform Jew. 

For one night only, on November 1 the audience will be transported through time to see Chanukah’s  journey as a refugee. Grodner is “definitely aiming to extend the show, this is just the beginning of its development.

“As Jews we very much live through fragments of history, we have little moments of bits we can hold onto. Often we don’t have a whole story, a whole photo, a whole outfit. So Chanukah is piecing together these bits and pieces and trying to make a history out of it.

“A lot of the show is about the objects that we’ve carried with us as Jews across borders- the history of Jews has been partly whatever we can carry, such as items we have snuck out of the Holocaust.”

Some items are family hand-me-downs, others were sourced from charity shops. 

As a queer historian, poet, drag artist, stylist and political activist, Grodner’s work frequently explores borders and binaries, exile and division between states, genders and generations.

“The show tells the story of Jewish women from history, from Serah Bat Asher, the great wandering matriarch to the witch-hunt of Monica Lewinsky.

“Hopefully people will have a good sing-song- there will be a bit of Fiddler on the Roof, Joan Rivers and who knows, you might even get a little lechaim before you go!”


The play will debut at  JW3 for one night only on November 1  

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