BWW Preview: Eastern Bridge Theatre Troupe Springs Ahead with New Season

BWW Preview: Eastern Bridge Theatre Troupe Springs Ahead with New Season"The word 'foreign' refers to a number of things - not just where you come from but also any form of identity which might put you in a position where you are seen as 'other' or 'less than.' It could include your race, gender, sex or even just a difference of opinion."

Not only a moving statement about what separates us from what we don't know or understand, but also an ideal way to pinpoint the reason for which a new theater company was born. Eastern Bridge Theatre Troupe is a unique group that strives to bring original, 'foreign' works to an American audience - works that may not have been otherwise acknowledged outside of their native lands. Founders Anna Rak and Maks Kubis created this unique troupe with the intent of bringing Polish culture to those who are unfamiliar with their shared cultural heritage. Since then, Eastern Bridge has presented The Story of Two Poets, the group's debut, bilingual production, and Strings: An Original Play (in collaboration with Palmyra Mattner).

In the words of Rak and Kubis, "Hearing foreign voices in the arts helps us steer clear of singular and cookie-cutter perspectives, empowering and opening an audience up to the complexities of different cultures, religions and views."

With such inspiring words in mind, Eastern Bridge will continue in the telling of otherwise unheard stories with both a new board of directors and an exciting monthly series. Anna Rak is joined by new members Kanja Grobler (Co-Artistic Director) and Irina Bravo (Director of Design and Marketing) to lead the Troupe into a successful new season - a goal that, no matter how diverse its parts, brings these individuals together with unified purpose.

"Each of these members is unique in their own way," explains Rak. "They have great personalities, very different backgrounds and life experiences. However, there is something we all have in common: the drive and passion to theatre and storytelling."

While studying at the Stella Adler Studio right here in New York, Rak, Grobler and Bravo witnessed each other's work on stage, yet never had the chance to work together. Sharing the desire to tell stories with greater personal significance while on stage, they were determined to someday work towards making the theatrical experiences they wished to create a reality. With this current collaboration, they are finally doing just that. And with this collaboration do they embody what Eastern Bridge strives to accomplish through its works: an appreciation of the diversity that, ideally, should bring us together.BWW Preview: Eastern Bridge Theatre Troupe Springs Ahead with New Season

Anna, who emigrated from Poland, is joined by Kanja from South Africa and Irina, who is Catalan-Chilean. Maks Kubis remains part of the group by serving as Music Director for some of the Troupe's upcoming projects.

Speaking of which, Eastern Bridge is introducing a new monthly series made up of an eclectic means of artistic expression. Foreign Voices Are Us will be comprised of poetry readings, storytelling, a cabaret, a reading of short plays and much more, to take place on Sunday once a month as either a mid-day or evening event. Performances will either be held indoors or outdoors, and will be made as affordable as possible so that audiences may share in this unique theatrical experience.

"Each [performance] will have a different theme and form. We will have diverse actors - some will include our members but we also want to give opportunities to other wonderful artists in NYC...[This] is another chance for people to find their community and feel they aren't alone."

The group's first reading is entitled "Let's Build a Bridge Not a Wall," and will focus on relationships (whether old or new) and about living in a civilization of global diversity. The second event will focus on the female-identified voice, presented through inspiring poetry readings; the third event will be a cabaret called "Lost in Gender Identity." These are the first three productions in this monthly series, with more to be announced in the future. The group also plans to continue with its full-length productions, depending on the success of their upcoming shows which they call "revealing, provocative and crucial for the current situation of the world."

"We believe that our work can lead to an inclusion of different artists with different backgrounds and different walks of life. We hope that audience members will see themselves represented in our series...We aim to invite audiences to experience the truth of what is going on around them, and hopefully this will lead to questions and open conversations which will lead to growth within ourselves. We hope that this will connect people to share their differences and learn from each other."

For more information on Foreign Voices Are Us, future/past productions and those whose efforts make Eastern Bridge Theatre such a wonderful group, please visit www.easternbridgetheatre.com.

Photo Credit: Anna Kuzmina

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