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New Yiddish Rep's THE LABOR OF LIFE Will Tour To Montreal

New Yiddish Rep's THE LABOR OF LIFE Will Tour To Montreal

New Yiddish Rep's Yiddish-language production of "The Labor of Life" by the late Israeli playwright Hanoch Levin, which is playing through January 26 at the Rep's Rose and Cyrus Feldman Studio Theater, 315 W. 39 Street (9 fl.), will be presented in Montreal February 16 for two performances at La Vitrola, 4602 Boul St-Laurent, Montréal, QC H2T 1R3, Canada. The theater, which seats 150, is expected to draw from the Montreal Jewish community and Yiddish-speakers including the KlezKanada crowd and Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theater crowd. It will be a production of New Yiddish Rep in association with Art Against Humanity and Bardak Productions. Translator is Eli Rosen and director is Gera Sandler. The piece will be performed with projected English supertitles.

Canadian producer is Polina Belkina, Curator of Art Against Humanity.

Tickets will be $30 regular and $15 students. There is a Facebook event

"The Labor of Life" is one of the "signature" plays of the late, famed Israeli playwright Hanoch Levin, who penned it in Hebrew in 1989. Considered an absurdist masterpiece, it is profound in its original Hebrew and very good in English, but it's really funny in Yiddish. It's a wry, clever and very sad play of the missed opportunities, compromises and disillusionments demanded by the "labor of life."

Originally presented at Israel's HaBima in June 1989, it stands out among contemporary writings for its sardonic resonance to Israelis and Jews worldwide. After 30 years of married life, in the middle of the night, Yona Popukh has decided to leave his wife, Leviva and start a new life before it's too late. Leviva protests that there is really nothing out there for him, that it would be indecent, and the that truth of his life is that he is "shoddy merchandise made of cheap stuff." Amid this argument enters Gunkel a bachelor friend, who comes for an aspirin for his headache but really craves the "warmth" of marriage--precisely what Yona is about to leave. When Gunkel departs, the couple resume their tumultuous argument alone and finally Yona resigns himself to his fate, that "there won't be anything more." He dies of a heart attack, leaving Leviva alone to carry on the labor of life.

The play amounts to a picture of all their life in less than an hour and a half. Levin laughs deeply at life through prototypical characters whose attributes--and even the onomatopoetic quality of their names--are original yet familiar. Yonah is the kind of coward who would decide to leave his marriage and then take 30 years to do it. He is like Jonah, who was sent to do a job in the Bible and ran away. Leviva is named for
the dumpling served at Hannukah; she is the strength of the household and has an answer for everything. Gunkel is an oaf like the name sounds and an insistent pest to boot.

The sardonic, ironic, crazy plays of Hanoch Levin (1943-1999) won him a reputation as something of a national treasure in Israel, even though the plays are more universal than Israeli. His writing is characterized by powerful language and a Rabelaisian sense of humor. When you stop laughing in a Levin play, you often find you've just seen something extremely sad. Levin was born in Tel Aviv in 1943 and began his artistic career as playwright, author and poet in the mid-1960's. His plays have been performed nearly every year in Israel, mainly in the national theater HaBima and The Cameri Theater. His body of work ranges from satirical cabarets (earning him something of a "Peck's bad boy" reputation) to bittersweet comedies, comic tragedies and reworkings of classical and biblical dramas. His Israeli awards included the President's Prize and the Art Council Prize. His plays have been translated into six languages and performed in festivals throughout the world.

Gara Sandler directs. The piece is acted by Mr. Sandler as Yona, Ronit Asheri-Sandler as Leviva and David Mandelbaum as Gunkel. Translation of the projected English surtitles is by New Yiddish Rep, as is all the production's design.

Remaining NY performances of "The Labor of Life' at New Yiddish Rep are Saturday, January 25 at 7:30 PM and Sunday, January 26 at 3:00 PM at the Rep's Cyrus and Rose Feldman Studio Theater, 315 W. 39 Street (9 fl.). Tickets are $25 and available at:

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