Previous events


Shiduchs, Shabbes and Shmucks

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Shiduchs, Shabbes and Shmucks* brings together a group of participants to explore the performance of Jewishness, in the spectre of the recent debates about antisemitism in the UK. This workshop is structured around ‘Shabbat’ - the Jewish day of rest - expect chicken soup, fish balls and fried fish** alongside rabbinic interventions, partner study, and time to make artistic responses inspired by the word ‘schmuck’.

This DIY emerges from a deep fondness for Jewish culture whilst at the same time a yearning for artistic spaces that can approach it critically, radically and humorously. Across three days we will create a homely space for participants to wrestle with these ideas and think about what it means to be ‘out as Jewish’ in artistic contexts.

Antisemitism can be hard for people to talk about. “Am I saying the right thing?” “It’s not my issue.” “I don’t know enough about it to respond.” We think Live Art can play a vital role in opening up some of these questions and conversation about antisemitism and by extension, Jewishness. We see this DIY as a space to have honest, critical and possibly difficult conversations around these issues.

*Yiddish for ‘matchmakers’, ‘day of rest’ and ‘contemptible people/penis’

**vegan options also available.


Intermission: Nurturing a Jewish Performance Community

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Over the past year, a small group of Jewish performing artists, led by Asylum alum Nick Cassenbaum, have been meeting regularly to provide support and dialogue around their challenges presenting Jewish-themed work in mainstream spaces in the UK. We realised that these challenges are now more relevant than ever with the rise of far-right antisemitism, and a growing conflation between the actions of the Israeli government and feelings towards the British Jewish community.

As a response to these challenging times, Asylum Arts has put together a 3-day intensive retreat for British Jewish performance-based artists. The program will address the specific concerns of artists working in performance-based media, and will particularly address the current political and social concerns of Jewish artists in the UK. The retreat will create a safe space for the exploration of Jewish and artistic identity, and the many creative manifestations of those identities. We hope, in our time together, to create a mentorship and support structure and strategies for responding to the continuing struggles of Jewish artists that are arising in the performance world.

We are pleased to be collaborating with the Manchester Jewish Museum and JW3, the Jewish Community Centre London on this retreat.

This is an invitation only retreat. If interested, please email us with a link to your website at

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