New Worlds Theatre Project to Stage World Premiere of Pinski's PROFESSOR BRENNER
New Worlds Theatre Project (Ellen Perecman, Producing Artistic Director) has announced that it will present the world premiere of David Pinski's comic tragedy, Professor Brenner, directed by Paul Takacs, in a translation by Ellen Perecman, beginning Sunday, November 1 at 2pm at HERE, 145 Sixth Avenue. The opening night is set for Monday, November 2 at 7pm.
David Pinski broke Yiddish theatrical tradition in the early 20th century by writing about sexual passion-one of the themes of Professor Brenner-with a frankness previously unknown to Yiddish literature. And with Professor Brenner (1911) he portrays a relationship considered socially taboo as a matter of emotional fascination: a relationship between an older man and a much younger woman outside the convention of an arranged marriage.
In Professor Brenner, 61-year-old Professor Arthur Brenner, a renowned painter and professor of painting, lives with his elderly mother. Socially awkward and pathologically indecisive, he has dedicated his life exclusively to the pursuit of his career, so his existence is shaken to its core when he meets an adoring young woman forty years his junior. He is convinced that he has found love for the first time. But, then again, he's not so sure. And neither is his mother.
New Worlds Theatre Project, founded in 2005, is the country's only theatre company dedicated to identifying the best Yiddish plays--from an artistic point of view-- making them accessible and exciting to contemporary artists and audiences by translating them into English, and producing their English language versions of the plays for diverse audiences.
Born in Russsia in 1872, David Pinski lived in Moscow with his family until they were expelled in 1892 because they were Jews. He moved from one great city in Europe to another, becoming a committed socialist and labor Zionist and taking an active part in trying to revolutionize the Jewish worker through his writing. Pinski moved to New York in 1899 to take a job as literary editor of Dos Abend Blatt, the official newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party. In 1904 he nearly received his doctorate in German language and literature from Columbia, but his orals were scheduled for the same day as the premiere of his play, The Tsvi Family, and he never showed up for the exam.
Pinski's best known work is probably his 1906 play Yankel der Shmid (Yankel the Blacksmith), which was adapted into a popular Yiddish film of the same title in 1938. The film, also known as The Singing Blacksmith, starred Moyshe Oysher and a young Herschel Bernardi. More recently, Caraid O'Brien adapted Yankel the Blacksmith in English with the title Jake the Mechanic. In addition to his scores of plays, Pinski also wrote many novels and essays.
In his later life, Pinski was president of the Farband (the Jewish National Worker's Alliance) and the Jewish Cultural Society in the 1940's. He helped to found the Tsentrale Yidishe Kultur-Organizatsye (Central Yiddish Cultural Organization [CYCO] in 1938. He was also involved in the creation of the World Cultural Congress in New York in 1948. In 1949, he emigrated to the state of Israel, where he continued to write plays and held fast to the belief that Yiddish would eventually become a respected part of the culture of Israel, alongside Hebrew. Pinski died in 1959.
Paul Takacs is the founding Artistic Director of The Shop. His recent directing credits include New Worlds Theatre Project's Carcass at HERE, as well as Jon Fosse's I Am the Wind and the U.S. premiere of Philip Ridley's Tender Napalm at 59E59 Theaters. Ben Brantley of The New York Times called Tender Napalm "expertly directed." His work has been seen at NYU; The Samuel French New Play Festival; The Red Room, NYC; The Cell Theatre, NYC; The New School for Drama, NYC; Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC; The Theatre Alliance, DC; Spooky Action Theatre, DC; Washington Shakespeare Company, DC; and Theatre of the First Amendment, VA. He has worked on new plays with John Strand, Heather Lynn MacDonald, and Judith Goudsmit to name but a few. He holds a BA in Drama from St. Mary's College of Maryland and an MFA in Directing from the New School for Drama. He has taught at St. Mary's College of Maryland and has served as a teaching artist for Shakespeare Theatre Company as well as the Folger Shakespeare Library and is currently on faculty at the Stella Adler Studio in New York. www.paultakacsdirector.com
New Worlds Theatre Project is a not for profit theatre company founded in 2005 for the purpose of restoring a voice to an extraordinary legacy of eastern European Jewish culture. The company makes these plays accessible to diverse contemporary artists and audiences by crafting modern English translations/adaptations that explore the plays through a contemporary lens while remaining faithful to the original texts in spirit, message and texture. In presenting these plays in contemporary English for the first time, their goals are to show the theatre community how well these plays have stood the test of time and to see them performed in local languages on stages all over the world, alongside plays from other cultural legacies.
Ellen Perecman, whose first language was Yiddish, is founder and Producing Artistic Director of New Worlds Theatre Project. Her acting career began in her home town of New Haven as a member of the theatre company at Ezra Stiles College at Yale while she was a student at a local public high school. She went on to study acting at Sarah Lawrence College. Her teachers there, Julie Bovasso and John Braswell, among others, were all affiliated with LaMaMa in NYC. Ellen graduated from Sara Lawrence in 1975 with a BA in Liberal Arts and continued on to graduate school in Linguistics, earning a Ph.D. from the Graduate Center CUNY in 1980. In her first professional career, she conducted clinical research, wrote and lectured on how the brain processes language, including work on the cognitive sequelae of HIV infection at the very beginning of the AIDS epidemic in 1988. During that period she resumed her acting training with Julie Bovasso in NYC. After Julie's death and a career change that took her to the Social Science Research Council as a Program Director, she began studying with Vivian Matalon.
This production is a part of SubletSeries@HERE, HERE's curated rental program, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as technical support.
Professor Brenner performs Thursday through Saturday and Monday at 7pm, with a Sunday matinee at 2pm, at HERE, 145 Sixth Avenue, entrance on Dominick Street, one block south of Spring Street. There will be added performances on Monday, November 2 at 7pm and Wednesday, November 18 at 7pm. Tickets are $18 and may be purchased at Ovationtix or at www.here.org or by phoning 212 352-3101. (The HERE box office opens at 5pm on performance days.) For more information about Professor Brenner and New Worlds Theatre Project, visit www.newworldsproject.org.
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