Arts & Culture

Writer and performer Nick Cassenbaum found what he’s looking for In East London’s last remaining steam bath. Now he’s coming to The North Wall to tell you all about it to tell you all about it     

Bubbemeises is Yiddish for a grandmother’s story, a tall story, an old wives’ tale. A schvitz is a Jewish steam bath where old men go to wash, relax, complain and rejuvenate, to exchange jokes, gossip and to swap bubbemeisis. Writer and street performer Nick Cassenbaum has been trying to make sense of his Jewish identity ever since he was a young boy. He tried everything - going to Spurs, summer camps, babershops, religion even. All, alas, to no avail. It wasn’t until his blind grandfather took him to the schvitz in Canning Town, East London that he found what he was looking for. Here men enact the ancient washing ritual of schmeissing, and, as he lay naked being schmeissed by his grandfather, he knew he had found what he was looking for, but above all, he knew he had to make a show about it.

‘Effortlessly charming and infectiously funny, Bubble Schemisis is everything you’d want from a show’  Three Weeks

In Bubble Schmeisis Nick and his klezmer musicians invite you to join them in the enveloping warmth of this last remaining authentic bath house in East London. Amongst the steam and ritual Nick will take you with him as he embarks on a journey schlepping through summer camps, barbershops and Spurs games to find the place where he belongs.

It’s about Nick finding his identity and wanting to keep the spirit of the steam baths alive. It gives an up-close insight into a community that is fading, a folk history of a once vibrant culture and comes to Oxford’s The North Wall on 18 May as part of a national tour. A hit with critics and audiences at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival, Bubble Schmeisis is full of intimate and personal true stories about identity, home and getting washed by old men. The show will strike a chord with anyone who looks to investigate their past to understand their present.

‘A gregarious performer (with) an accessible, generous, disarming production’ The Stage

‘It’s just a place that’s all about sitting together,” said Nick of the schvitz. ‘It’s a place where men talk freely and frankly. It’s the only place where I really felt some kind of identity – it felt like home. Now I’m really excited to be taking it out to new audiences. I invite them onto the stage with me for playful interactions so the show changes depending on how those people respond, leaving no two performances the same.’ See a trailer here <> Nick Cassenbaum is a storyteller, street performer and theatre maker and is co-artistic director of Slap Haddock and take stock exchange. His theatre work has always focused on the way we interact with places and spaces and what that can tell us about ourselves. ‘I try to make stories as accessible as possible. I am interested in breaking the convention of theatre where the audience sit quietly, I get them up on stage and hopefully make them feel so comfortable that if they want to talk to me during the show….they can.’ <>

Bubble Schmeisis is directed by Danny Braverman who won critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival, with his one-man-show Wot? No Fish!! He is co-director of the newly reformed Bread and Circuses and has also worked with the National Theatre, Graeae Theatre Company and Theatre Royal Stratford East.

‘A disarmingly informal raconteur, talking to the audience as if we’re old friends’ The List

Nick Cassenbaum is a brilliant and very witty raconteur and is available for interview. Contact Steve Forster <> 01603 661459 for availabilities. Bubble Schmeisis listings

Nick Cassenbaum’s intimate and deeply personal show featuring true stories about identity set in East London’s last surviving schvitz (steam bath house).

18 May 8pm    

Oxford The North Wall, South Parade OX2 7JN             £14/£12/£10 01865 319450