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Great Small Works Presents MUNTERGANG AND OTHER CHEERFUL DOWNFALLS Great Small Works revisits the work of radical 20th-century New York City puppeteers Zuni Maud and Yosl Cutler. In a bilingual Yiddish-English play that uses Maud and Cutler's satirical puppet scripts and original graphics, together with Great Small Works' own puppets and projections, as well as The Dybbuk and Mae West, Muntergang is a meditation on historical models for changing power relationships.

Created in collaboration with the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Muntergang is based on the lives and work of Zuni Maud and Yosl Cutler, two radical hand-puppeteers from the early 20th century. Muntergang is a bilingual show (Yiddish and English) using a range of puppet techniques, including hand puppets, rod puppets, projections, panoramic scrolls, handmade lighting instruments, flat cut-outs and live actors, with an original music score performed live.

About the Production

Founded by artists Zuni Maud and Yosl Cutler in New York in 1925, Modicut was the first Yiddish puppet theater, and one of the most unique and innovative cultural phenomena to hit the flourishing and diverse Yiddish stage. Created by two artists who met working as cartoonists in the Yiddish press, the troupe brought folklore and expressionistic style to high art venues, and fun and satire to working class audiences in the radical art-making milieu of Lower East Side NYC life.

YIVO Institute, with its strong interest in contemporary applications of the historic materials housed in its extensive archives, has been Great Small Works' collaborating partner in this project. An article about Modicut, researched in the collection of Modicut manuscripts and puppets at YIVO and written by Dr. Edward Portnoy, Academic Advisor at YIVO, provided the historical background on which this show is based.

For the past two decades, with Jenny Romaine as its culture-making scholar guide, Great Small Works has contributed to a contemporary reinvention of Yiddish Performance.

"We are fascinated to work with archival materials as we seek to understand the past on its own terms and in its own languages, and as we discover examples of other ways of being and structuring art practices. Yosl Cutler and Zuni Maud were two artists whose work in 1920's New York City has many parallels to our work today. Our investigation of their Modicut Puppet Theater is a collage in real time--an amalgam of Yiddish newspaper articles, program notes, theater reviews, poetry and essays, drawings and prints by Maud and Cutler, cartoons, film images, heretofore un-translated Yiddish hand-puppet scripts, Hasidic narratives, erotic fantasy, a little bit of enticing horror, and unsentimental political commentary-helping us explore our own social moment and our identities within it."

Muntergang presents historical information about Modicut-the team's background, their political concerns, etc.-and then uses this information to provoke new questions about contemporary life in America, and ask important questions about the way we live our lives today!

Created and performed by Great Small Works company members John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine and Roberto Rossi, with musicians Jessica Lurie and Hannah Temple and puppeteer Sam Wilson. Lights: Meredith Holch.

Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls

May 3 - 6


May 3 @ 8pm

May 4 @ 8pm

May 5 @ 3pm & 8pm

May 6 @ 3pm


General Admission - $25

Seniors/Artists/Military - $20

Students - $15

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