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PRAGUE, 1912 (THE SAVOY CAFE YIDDISH THEATRE Begins Tonight at TNC

"Prague, 1912 (the Savoy Café Yiddish Theatre)" by Lu Hauser is a comedy based on historic personalities of the Yiddish Theater.

A vagabond acting company comes to Prague: it's Jak Lowy and his leading lady, Mme. Trassik. Lowy is a veteran actor who has put stars in her eyes and they are lovers. When they act together, it's magic, but their repertoire is a shambles and they subsist more by selling baked sweet potatoes than by selling tickets to their unconventional versions of classic plays. What emerges is a backstage comedy of their love-hate relationship and their entrapment of a sympathetic local writer named Gregor Samsa.

Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave, will premiere the work tonight, November 9, to November 26, directed by George Ferencz. What ensues is a backstage comedy of this trio's creative process that is a celebration of the theater.

Ferencz guided playwright Hauser in the evolution of the play, which was written between 2009 and her death in 2011. The characters Lowy and Trassik are loosely inspired by the Yiddish Theater figures Itzhak Lowy, a prominent Polish Yiddish Theater actor who died in the Treblinka extermination camp, and Mania Tshissik, a member of his troupe. They were both bullheaded, constantly at loggerheads and obstinate with each other.

Jenne Vath plays Mme. Trassik, John Barilla plays Lowy and Jason Howard plays Gregor Samsa. Alex Wilborn provides vintage WWI yiddish songs on the cornet. Set and lighting dsign are by Mark Marcante. Costume design is by three-time Emmy winner Sally Lesser. Sound design is by Obie-winner Tim Schellenbaum. Special Props are designed by Lytza Colon. Stage Manager is Karen Pontius.

Playwright Lu Hauser (1924-2011) was a classical actress who turned to playwriting. Her works have been produced at EST, The Cherry Lane, The 92nd Street Y, The Public, The Actors Theater of Louisville, Intiman Theater of Seattle, the New Stage Theater of Jackson, Mississippi, and The Goodman Theater in Chicago. Her "Lincoln on Hester Street" was awarded the first place prize by the American Alliance for Theater and Education and was produced at Theater For the New City directed by Ferencz, in 2009. Her "Not Dead Yet," "New Parachutes" and "The Client (a.k.a The New Montana)" were produced in the inaugural season of The 42nd Street Workshop. Her other plays include "The Anton Series," "One in a Million (a.k.a. King of Coney Island Frank)," "Boardwalk" and "Crane in Love (a.k.a.Sadie)."

George Ferencz (director) is best known for his direction of plays by Sam Shepard. Recognized by the New York Times "as one of the foremost directorial interpreters of Shepard," he has directed landmark productions of "Angel City," "Back Bog Beast Bait," "Cowboy Mouth (in Concert), "Suicide in B-Flat" and "The Tooth of the Crime." His TNC productions include "Lincoln on Hester Street," "Fear Itself," "Piecework," "Delicate Feelings" and "The Space Show," the first TNC production at 155 First Avenue. As a resident director at La MaMa, he has directed over 30 productions including most recently the blues opera "Conjur Woman" in New York and Rome.

The actors of this play are drawn from The Experimentals, an ensemble which for many years has performed the Matchbox Series of ten-minute plays in TNC's Lower East Side Festival of the Arts. The troupe was formed during George Ferencz's 16-year tenure as Founding Director and Curator of La MaMa's Experimental Playreading Series. In 2007, Ferencz directed a festival of six plays from the series, entitled EXPERIMENTA!. The core actors of that festival (John-Andrew Morrison, Jason Howard and Jenne Vath) spawned The Experimentals. The troupe's productions to date also include "Kalinovik" by Yasmine Rana, the workshop of "The Dutch Play" by Owa and an Owa Memorial, "From the Vault," concert readings of seven plays from the 60's. Included were three plays by C.S. Hanson which the Experimentals commissioned and produced: "Where Were You When I Was Coming?" (published in 2013 The Best Ten-Minute Plays), "Prick Perfect" (published in 2014 The Best Ten-Minute Plays) and "Double D."

The Experimentals are most grateful for the enduring support of TNC's Artistic Director Crystal Field.

IF YOU GO:

PRAGUE, 1912 (THE SAVOY CAFÉ YIDDISH THEATRE)

November 9 to 26, 2017

Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street), East Village

Presented by Theater for the New City

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM. No performance Nov 23 (Thanksgiving); special 3:00 PM matinee Sat, Nov 25.

$12 general admission, $10 seniors.

Box office (212) 254-1109, www.theaterforthenewcity.net

Running time :80. Critics are invited on or after November 10.

Pictured: Itzhak Lowy



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