Who the Folk?! Miriam Schwartz

Welcome to “Who the Folk?!” Every week on Monday we feature a new member of the community as our “Person of the Week.” Last week we got to know Brittany Beck & Jonathan Wolfish. This week meet Miriam Schwartz! Know someone we should feature? Nominate them by sending an email to [email protected]

TC Jewfolk: Are you from the Twin Cities? 

Miriam: I’m not! I’m a transplant from Seattle, Washington. I came to Minneapolis to study acting at the University of Minnesota– they have a BFA training program that partners with the Guthrie Theater, and after a long process of auditioning for a number of different programs around the country, that one felt like the right fit. And then I ended up sticking around when I finished the program.

TCJ: You’re an actress here in town. Does the Twin Cities have as good of a theater scene as they say?

Miriam: ​It really does. I attribute a lot of the reason why I’ve stayed in Minneapolis to the strength of the arts community and theater scene. It’s a fantastic city to be an artist in– there’s so much support and lots of opportunities to both be a part of work and create your own. I’ve also found the audiences here to be really engaged and enthusiastic. There’s always a show playing that’s worth seeing (and often way more shows than I have time to see).

TCJ: Is that your job? Or do you do something else to pay the bills?

Miriam: I consider acting my job, but having a day job to pay the bills is absolutely a reality of the actor’s life. Some theaters are able to pay a living wage, but most are not, so I’ve actually had a couple different side jobs to fill in if/when I need to. I spent about a year teaching at a Montessori preschool. And actually, currently I’m finishing up a temporary job in Seattle working as the Guest Suite Coordinator for the Seattle International Film Festival, which I’ve loved and has been a total trip. It also uses a completely different side of my brain– the organizational, administrative side that doesn’t come into play often in the theater rehearsal process.

TCJ: Did you go to a Jewish summer camp as a kid? Who are you reppin’ for Jew Camp pride?

Miriam: You know, it’s funny, the Jew Camp thing is not that common in the Northwest…it wasn’t until I spent time with Jews from other parts of the country that I realized that camp a pretty important part of a lot of people’s Jewish upbringing! I feel like I missed out, a bit. Although I DID go with my family to Unitarian family camp every summer. And if that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.

TCJ: What’s your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

Miriam: Unfortunately, now many of my Friday nights are spent in rehearsals, or performing. Growing up, Shabbat was a chance for everyone in my family to slow down from our busy schedules and sit down together. My mom might make challah and my dad would insist that we sing the full kiddush, and we would go around the table and share one instance from the week in which we did something nice for someone else, and one instance in which someone did something nice for us. I have such sweet memories of those nights.

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Miriam: I’m a big fan of Passover. I have a wonderful surrogate Jewish family here who has invited me year after year to their Seder, and I always enjoy it. I love the emphasis on learning and discussion, and I love that each year I take something totally different away from it. Including tupperware containers with leftover food.

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Miriam: Latkes. But…the Trader Joe’s frozen kind. Haha, is that the worst? Sorta. I also love blintzes, although I can’t remember the last time I had one!

TCJ: Have you been to Israel? What is your favorite memory?

Miriam: I have! Last summer. I went on a Birthright trip with Israel Outdoors. The hikes we went on were absolutely stunning and so memorable– but one of my favorite memories from the trip was watching Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem come to life at like 10pm Saturday night after being closed for all of Shabbat…only to shut down again a couple hours later when everyone decided it was time to go to sleep.

TCJ: What’s your favorite summer activity?

Miriam: Biking around Minneapolis in the summer is the best. That’s probably a pretty common answer. I don’t have a car, so I bike most of the year, but going around the lakes during the day, biking home from grilling with friends on a warm night– it’s just my absolute favorite.

miriam-schwartz-2TCJ: What’s your favorite thing to do in the Cities?

Miriam: I’m a total people watcher– often when I decide to go somewhere other than my apartment to do work, I end up getting distracted by the people around me. I’ve met some really wonderful people who have become close friends just through striking up random conversation. I think the Cities are a really good place to do that in.

TCJ: Give us one more reason you’re folking awesome!

Miriam: Oh, I don’t know! Last spring I did a show with the Minnesota Jewish Theatre called HANDLE WITH CARE in which my character was an Israeli woman who spoke Hebrew. My Hebrew is (or was!) limited to pretty much blessings, and little pieces I remember from my bat mitzvah prep. So I learned these massive paragraphs in contemporary Hebrew. And now I know how to say useful things like “Where is my grandmother, you idiot!?”

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