• bio

Lorraine Helms began singing Yiddish songs as a soloist with the Jewish Folk Chorus of San Francisco in 2007. She has taken master classes with Hankus Netsky, Adrienne Cooper and Eleanor Reissa. Past performances include the KlezCalifornia Yiddish Culture Festival and the International Association of Yiddish Clubs. She is currently presenting solo concerts at venues in the Bay Area.

She has also been, at various times, a singer of madrigals, ballad operas and Gaelic laments; a dancer, actor, mime and clown; a scholar and, very briefly, a gorilla.

Since her stage debut at age ten in the title role of Guki the Moon Boy under the direction of Viola Spolin, her theatrical work has ranged from Shakespeare through The Beggar’s Opera and Marat/Sade to contemporary clown theatre, vaudeville, and solo performance. Cast against type, she played King Kong in The Big Show of 1936 with Jackie Coogan and Beatrice Kay at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.

As co-Artistic Director of Shakespeare by Heart, she wrote and performed a series of solo theatre pieces exploring Shakespeare’s female characters, including Looking for Margaret, which was presented to the Shakespeare Association of America.

The author of Seneca by Candlelight and Other Stories (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997) and co-author of The Weyward Sisters (Basil Blackwell, 1993), she holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University and has taught at Oberlin College and Cornell University.