Heritage on stage

Tom Stoppard’s ‘Leopoldstadt’ to explore Jewish roots on Broadway

Family of famous British playwright born Tomas Straussler fled from Czechoslovakia to Singapore during World War II

An advertisement for Tom Stoppard's 'Leopoldstadt' (via Twitter)
An advertisement for Tom Stoppard's 'Leopoldstadt' (via Twitter)

Tom Stoppard’s “Leopoldstadt,” a work for which the acclaimed British playwright mined the Jewish heritage he discovered later in life, is heading to Broadway.

Named after Vienna’s Jewish ghetto during World War II, “Leopoldstadt” tells the story of 50 years in the life of one wealthy intermarried family in the early part of the 20th century. It will premiere at New York’s Longacre Theater in September.

Stoppard, born Tomas Straussler, didn’t discover his Jewish ancestry until the 1990s. His non-observant family fled their native Czechoslovakia during World War II to Singapore, and then left to India after Japan began attacking there. Stoppard’s father was killed by a Japanese bomb.

Stoppard has won multiple Tony and Academy Awards for writing lauded stage plays such as “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” and Hollywood films such as “Shakespeare in Love.” A private figure, Stoppard has rarely discussed his Jewish identity in public.

“It’s so far from being the story I lived through,” he told the London Jewish Chronicle. “It’s a lot to do with being Jewish, knowing you are Jewish, acknowledging you are Jewish, acting like you are Jewish…or not. And that’s the area where I felt I was looking inward rather than outward.”

His son Ed starred in a London production of the play, which debuted in 2020.

“I’ve never felt more connected to my heritage,” Ed Stoppard told the Guardian.

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