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September 14, 2012

Hayden Cohen - Leeds, UK - Secrets of the Elders of Zion

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/hayden_cohen_leeds_uk_secrets_of_the_elders_of_zion/

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Hayden Cohen has always wanted to be a member of the Elders of Zion. A secret organisation controlling the world sounds great. He's Jewish. He thinks like a pensioner. Unfortunately he hasn't received an invitation yet. So he decided to form the UK branch of the Elders of Zion himself. Come to this, the new members open day and see if you have what it takes. Containing performance poetry, music and comedy.

Bit about me

I'm Hayden Cohen. A 26 year old performance poet, singer-songwriter and funnyman from Leeds, UK. I've been performing forever and being Jewish has always been a large part of that.

Aged 8, I played the part of Tevier (with drawn on beard) at my local Jewish primary school; the only one in Leeds.

As a community, Leeds has approximately 10,000 Jews with 250,000 across the whole of the UK. This makes us less than 0.5% of the population. Even so, Jews seem to be a very visible part of public life. Jews own many of the large chain stores or are on their board of directors. They are in politics, law, entertainment and the media amongst others. Whilst the majority of Jews do not have these roles, the fact that there are so many can create negative perceptions of the community.

As an artist, I really want to play with these ideas and show that whilst a lot of the stereotypes are terrible, maybe some of them may have some accuracy.

I love being Jewish, but if we can't laugh at ourselves, someone will persecute us instead. That's history.

To some extent though it's easier being Jewish in the UK than in Israel as you have to work at it. I have to be careful that what I eat is kosher and can't really show my Jewish pride openly; but enough of Tel Aviv.

As Jewish culture is something to be worked at, rather than be constantly apparent as in Israel, it means that I can't take my heritage for granted even though I'm agnostic whilst also a practicing Jew. This perspective also intrigues me and will be exploring it further within the show.

'Secrets of the Elders of Zion' will be my third one man show. I've taken my first two shows 'Rantings of a Young Fool' in 2010 and 'Age of the Geek' in 2012 to the Edinburgh Fringe. Approximately 1000 people have seen the shows so far and the response has been great.

I pride myself on managing expectations as the majority of my performance is multi-disciplinary meaning that not everything is funny or serious. It's somewhere in the middle.

On the whole reviews reflect this with the vast majority giving me 3 stars with a few 4 and 5 stars. At such an early stage of my career this is fantastic.

I look forward to improving my craft and bringing 'Secrets of the Elders of Zion' to the Rushes festival.

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