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AWAKE AND SING! Begins Performances Today at The Theater at The 14th Street Y


AWAKE AND SING! Begins Performances Today at The Theater at The 14th Street Y

New Yiddish Rep's production of Clifford Odets' 1935 masterpiece AWAKE AND SING! begins performances today (Saturday) at 2 pm, with Opening Night set for December 6th 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 current Off-Broadway revival with English supertitles.

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's 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).

Legendary playwright and screenwriter, Clifford Odets (1906-1963), authored such Depression-era dramas as GOLDEN BOY, ROCKET TO THE MOON and WAITING FOR LEFTY; cultural sensations that had enduring impact on his generation of writers. In his memoir, Arthur Miller recalled that "an Odets play was awaited like news hot off the press, as though through him we would know what to think of ourselves and our prospects."

New Yiddish Rep is dedicated to creating modern theater which speaks to a diverse contemporary audience, including those who never might have thought they could connect to a performance in a language other than their own.

Set & lighting design for AWAKE AND SING! is by Nathan Roden, with costume design by Gail Cooper-Hecht.

AWAKE AND SING! is being presented in association with the Theater at the 14th Street Y and performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at7:30 pm, with matinees Saturday & Sunday at 2 pm through December 24th. Tickets are available through or by calling 646-395-4310.

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