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TNC Presents New Yiddish Rep In CRAZY MESHUGE HURRICANE EARTHQUAKE, January 12-19

This play is the story of an unlikely connection that develops between a middle aged secular Jewish woman and a young Hasidic man struggling with schizophrenia.

TNC Presents New Yiddish Rep In CRAZY MESHUGE HURRICANE EARTHQUAKE, January 12-19

From January 12 to 19, 2022, Theater for the New City will present the New Yiddish Rep production of "Crazy Meshuge Hurricane Earthquake" by Amy Coleman, directed by David Mandelbaum. This six-character play is the story of an unlikely connection that develops between a middle aged secular Jewish woman and a young Hasidic man struggling with schizophrenia. Hired to be his caretaker, the woman attempts to give him the support he needs, but discovers that her agenda may have more to do with her own needs than his. The play offers important lessons on love and trust.

This play is the first in a two-part series of plays presented by Theater for the New City that deal with identity, schizophrenia and self-empowerment in the Hasidic Jewish communities of New York. The second, playing January 22-30, is "Di Froyen" (The Women) by Melissa Weisz and Malky Goldman, directed by Rachel Botchan. It lifts the veil on the plight of women in abusive relationships, in this case in the Hasidic community. More info, see: https://www.jsnyc.com/season/di_froyen.htm.

In "Crazy Meshuge Hurricane Earthquake," a recently retired music teacher named Lenora Kline is looking for meaning in her life when she answers an ad on Craigslist for a job as a live-in caretaker for Yossi Schwartz, a paranoid schizophrenic young man from a Hasidic background. Because of the stigma of mental illness, Yossi has been isolated from his family and community and has been drifting in and out of hospitals until he meets Lenora. What emerges is a curious relationship between Jews from different worlds. Yossi has an openness of character and a surprising wit that make him easy to love and nurture. He is handsome, intuitive and funny; charming yet hopelessly ill. He is also scarred by having been sexually abused as a youth by a man whom the community inadvertently allows to continue his predations because of their reluctance to involve police or air these problems publicly. Ultimately Leonora discovers that in trying to heal Yossi, she has been actually trying to heal her relationship with her late father, who also suffered from mental illness.

The play admirably portrays the minds of paranoid schizophrenics and how they react to the world. Yossi's situation is actually a window onto the deficiencies of our mental health system, which lacks understanding of the disorders it treats and relies too heavily on drug therapies of-the-day. Patients are ostracized from their families, condemned to psychiatric wards or else locked out on the streets, while social workers are so overworked that they lose empathy. Yossi longs for a deep connection to his family, but his father has twelve other children and his main concern is to marry them off. Any known mental health issue in the family would stigmatize them and diminish the ability to make a suitable match.

Although it is in English, the play is peppered with Yiddish phrases and idiomatic expressions.

The actors are Andrew Hardigg (as Yossi), Amy Coleman (as Lenora), Jacob Louchheim, Thomas Morris, Kurt Perry, and Kelly Walters. Set designer is Mark Marcante. Lighting designer is Alexander Bartenieff.

Amy Coleman has previously written a few collaborations but this is her first serious play. She was recently licensed as a social worker. She credits The Barrow Group playwriting classes for helping her achieve the structure to make this play work. Her performance career began with a hit cabaret show, "Face to the Wall" by Brian Lasser, for which she was twice awarded Best Vocalist of the Year by Backstage. In regional theater, she appeared as Mary Magdalene in "Jesus Christ Superstar," the voice in "Little Shop of Horrors" and the Gypsy Queen in "Tommy." She played Janis Joplin in the original Off-Broadway production of "Beehive" at the Village Gate and starred as Vickie in "The Last Session." At La MaMa, she appeared with Andre De Shields in "Kiss Me When It's Over." She appeared at Theater for the New City with Jimmy Camicia's Hot Peaches and toured with the troupe internationally. For many years she collaborated with Italian composer Enzo Fillipelli.

During the late '90s into the 2000's, Coleman sang at the late, great Dan Lynch Blues Bar. With her husband David Mandelbaum, she founded the all-women blues band Sweet Potato, appearing as lead vocalist. She has appeared in New Yiddish Rep's productions of "Death Of A Salesman," "Awake and Sing" by Clifford Odetts and "Rhinoceros" by Eugene Ionesco. Her directing credits include "Yosl Rokover Speaks to G-d," "Savage in Limbo," "The Vagina Monologues" and many cabaret acts. She is a voice, acting, and writing teacher.

Director David Mandelbaum has been producing, acting and directing in experimental theater in New York for over 35 years, working at La MaMa, Theater For The New City, The Common Basis Theater and others. In 2007, he and Amy Coleman founded the New Yiddish Rep and premiered its first show, Mandelbaum's adaptation of the Holocaust classic by Zvi Kolitz, "Yosl Rakover Speaks To G-d," which Coleman directed. This was soon followed by "The Essence: A Yiddish Theater Dim Sum" and "The Big Bupkis: The Complete Gentile's Guide to Yiddish Vaudeville." Under Mandelbaum's leadership, New Yiddish Rep has presented original films, concerts, performance art, and art exhibitions, and has workshopped and developed a string of significant adaptations of modern classics in Yiddish translation. He directed its Off-Broadway production of "Awake and Sing," appeared in its "Waiting for Godot," "Awake and Sing," "God of Vengeance" and "The Whore from Ohio," and produced "Rhicoceros" and its celebrated production of "Death of a Salesman."

A developmental workshop production of "Crazy Meshuge Hurricane Earthquake" was presented by New Yiddish Rep in 2019.



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