Castillo Theatre Announces The Learning Play of Rabbi Levi-Yitzhok

The Castillo Theatre (Dan Friedman, artistic director, Diane Stiles, managing director) is opening its 28th theatre season with the revival of its first show, Friedman's The Learning Play of Rabbi Levi-Yitzhok, Son of Sara, of Berditchev, directed by Moshe Yassur, a veteran of the Romanian, Israeli and French stages and the former director of the Jewish division of the New Federal Theatre. The play runs Friday, October 21 to Sunday, November 20.

When the great Hassidic Rabbi Levi-Yitzhok of Berditchev died in 1809, according to legend, he would not enter heaven unless God agreed first to end poverty and suffering on earth. Nearly a century later, in Dan Friedman's play, four Jewish men meet on a ship crossing the Atlantic, fleeing the poverty and pogroms of Europe, hoping for a better life in the unknown cities and towns of America. On the long and difficult crossing, the four recall the oft-told stories of Rabbi Levi-Yitzhok - by performing them for one another. In time-honored fashion, they debate the stories' meaning and dispute the question "What is the responsibility of a Jew in this world?" Conflict and humor follow as convention and ritual are challenged, part of the long tradition of humanism within Jewish culture.

Located at the All Stars Project's performing arts and learning center on West 42nd Street, the Castillo Theatre brings experimental political theatre, dealing with contemporary and historical social issues, to the heart of New York's commercial theatre district. Since 1983, Castillo has staged well over 100 productions - from multicultural and avant-garde plays, to musicals and improvisational shows.

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. at The Castillo Theatre located at 543 West 42nd Street (between 10th & 11th Avenue). Tickets are $35 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. Group rates are available. Tickets can be purchased through the Castillo Box Office at 212-941-1234 or go to



Dan Friedman is the Artistic Director of the Castillo Theatre and its youth theatre, Youth Onstage. He helped to found the Castillo in 1984 and has served as its dramaturg since 1989. In 2010 he succeeded FrEd Newman as artistic director of the Castillo Theatre. Friedman has written or co-written 15 plays, including a number that have been produced by Castillo and Youth Onstage! In addition to the acting, directing and producing he has done at Castillo, he has directed at La Mama E.T.C, the Nuyorican Poets Café and at a number of New York City colleges. He holds a doctorate in theatre history from the University of Wisconsin, and has been active in political, experimental and community-based theatre since the late 1960s. He helped to found Madison, Wisconsin's Theatre-in-the-Park and New York City's Theatre Collective and Workers' Stage. He has taught theatre, public speaking and writing at Baruch College, Queensborough Community College, York College, and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. He served as editor of The Cultural Politics of Heiner Müller, (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), Müller in America (Castillo Cultural Center, 2003), and Still on the Corner and Other Postmodern Political Plays by FrEd Newman (Castillo Cultural Center, 1998), and co-editor, with Bruce McConachie, of Theatre for Working Class Audiences in the United States, 1830-1980 (Greenwood Press, 1985). He has written for such publications as The Drama Review, Modern Drama, Communications from the International Brecht Society, and Back Stage.

MOSHE YASSUR was born in Romania and survivor of the 1941 Iasi pogrom, became a child actor after the war at the Pomul Verde, the Yiddish theatre founded by Avrom Goldfadn and on the stage of the Romanian National Theatre in his hometown of Iasi. After his emigration to Israel, he continued his life in the theatre as an actor, director, and teacher and won prizes for his work. In 1962 he received a scholarship to study theatre in Paris and worked with Jean Marie Serreau who pioneered the theatre of Eugene Ionesco and Samuel Beckett. Moshe came to New York in 1971 and found his first theatrical home with Woodie King, Jr. at the New Federal Theatre where he was in charge of the experimental theatre workshop and directed several productions, among them Andorra by Max Frisch. In New York, he also directed for the Soho Rep, the Open Space Theatre Experiment, and the Third Step Theatre Company; more recently, he directed for the Jewish National Theatre Folksbiene the critically acclaimed Gimpl, the Fool, his own adaptation of the short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. For many years he also taught drama to students in various high schools in the Bronx. During the past ten years he has returned to Romania regularly to direct; for example, at The National Theatre in Iasi he premiered Judith by Howard Barker and two plays by Eugene Ionesco, Jacques or the Submission and The Future is in the Eggs. His production of Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw, another Romanian premiere, is currently playing in Bucharest for the eighth season and celebrated recently its 100th performance.

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