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New Play DIASPORA Explores Jewish Identity Off-Broadway, Starting Tonight

What is a Jew? And what is the true meaning of Israel and the Diaspora? A new Off-Broadway production tackles these enduring issues of Judaism. Written by critically acclaimed playwright Nathaniel Sam Shapiro, the hilarious play Diaspora places young, Jewish tourists from around the world up close with their historical ancestors, forcing an intimate confrontation with the meaning of Jewishness and the nature of Israel today.

Known for his thought- and emotion-provoking dramas, Shapiro this time turns to comedy to launch a conversation about Jewish heritage, its relevance in our world and its relevance to Jews everywhere. Directed by Saheem Ali and produced by Red Moon Theater Company, Diaspora runs tonight, November 14, to December 23 at the Gym at Judson theater.

Using dramatic interplay between characters usually separated in time, the production explores the ancient story of the Siege at Masada and the beleaguered Jews who made a desperate choice in 73 AD, and a group of contemporary American Jewish youth on a Birthright cultural legacy trip to Israel. As the young people are connected with their history, the discussion takes several profound and uncomfortable turns.

The play grows out of deeply personal experiences of the author, and issues that he-and indeed many Jews-have been grappling with over time. Shapiro explains: "What is the essence of the Jewish spirit? Who are our heroes? And how do we of the Diaspora connect with Israel and our past? I felt that Masada, with its link through the heritage trips of today, was the perfect place to examine these issues and advance the discussion."

Diaspora stars Serena Berman, Maggie Metnick, Tom McVey, Ava Eisenson, RJ Vaillancourt, Quinn Franzen, Joe Tapper and Connie Castanzo.

Scenic design is by Maruti Evans, lighting design by Eric Southern, sound design by Miles Polaski, projection design by Caite Hevner and costume design by Oana Botez.

Diaspora is not associated with or endorsed by Birthright Israel.

The Gym at Judson is located at 243 Thompson Street, New York, New York 10012. For tickets, visit or visit the Box Office.

Follow Diaspora on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @diasporatheplay.

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