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Photos: First Look at New Yiddish Rep's AWAKE AND SING!


Currently in previews, the New Yiddish Rep production of Clifford Odets' 1935 masterpiece Awake and Sing! is set to officially open next Wednesday, December 6, at the Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 East 14 Street (between First & Second Aves). A Yiddish version of Awake and Sing! was produced on Broadway by WPA's Federal Theatre Project in 1938 and it is this translation that is being performed in the Off-Broadway revival with English supertitles. BroadwayWorld has a first look at the cast in action below!

The famed Group Theatre presented the Broadway premiere of Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing! in 1935 and the play returned to New York three years later featuring a Yiddish-speaking cast directed by Jacob Mestel. This 1938 Federal Theatre production restored to the play some qualities it lost earlier when Odets' colleagues at The Group Theatre had asked him to tone down the Yiddish colloquialisms and syntax that were part of his New York ghetto characters' English. The playwright's initial impulse to let Jewish immigrants speak of struggle, poverty and survival in their own language and speech rhythms was realized anew in Chaver Paver's adaptation. Odets' distressed characters who longed for a life "not printed on dollar bills" could be heard speaking Yiddish nightly on Broadway, at Daly's 63rd Street Theatre, from December 1938 to April 1939.

Generally considered Clifford Odets' finest play, Awake and Sing! is the story of the Bergers, a lower-middle-class, three-generation Jewish family living in a Bronx apartment during the Depression. The play recalls that this country was founded as the land of opportunity for immigrants who came with an enduring belief in the American dream.

Under the direction of New Yiddish Rep artistic director, David Mandelbaum, the international cast of Awake and Sing! features Ronit Asheri (star of Yiddishpiel Theater), Amy Coleman (original productions of BEEHIVE & THE LAST SESSION), Lea Kalisch (COCOADIOS, BOUNTIFUL), Mira Kessler (GOD OF VENGEANCE), Moshe Lobel ("Untold Genius"), David Mandelbaum (WAITING FOR GODOT, YENTL), Eli Rosen (RHINOCEROS), Israeli film star Gera Sandler (A FILM UNFINISHED, JELLYFISH, A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS), and Luzer Twersky ("Transparent," new Netflix documentary ONE OF US).

Photo Credit: Pedro Hernandez

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