The Castillo Theatre Announces Mr. Hirsch Died Yesterday, Opens 1/21

The Castillo Theatre (Dan Friedman, artistic director, Diane Stiles, managing director) held the first full cast rehearsal today for FrEd Newman's MR. HIRSCH DIED YESTERDAY, which runs Friday, January 21 to Sunday, February 20 with an official press preview on Thursday, January 20. Directed by Woodie King, Jr. (founder and producing director of the New Federal Theatre).

The cast for MR. HIRSCH DIED YESTERDAY will feature Lindsay Arber, Dana Berger, Debbie Buchsbaum, Zoë Geltman, Joseph Mallon, Reynaldo Piniella, Ben Prayz, Katya Pucci, Moshe Yassur with All Stars Project founder and community activist, Lenora Fulani, making her stage debut.

"I like what FrEd Newman is doing with his plays - he covers a very wide canvas in a very few pages which gives a director a chance to explore and experiment," says Woodie King, Jr.

MR. HIRSCH DIED YESTERDAY is a semi-autobiographical play set in the Bronx of the 1940s, and was FrEd Newman's first full-length play, originally produced in 1986. Playing with philosophy, theatrical forms and storytelling, MR. HIRSCH DIED YESTERDAY explores human identity and shared history when a Jewish writer named Fred meets an African American woman named Freda and find they share more than childhood memories. Can two people have the same history?

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. 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

Director Woodie King, Jr. is available for interviews.
Contact Gail Peck at 212-356-8449 or email


LENORA FULANI (Freda) made her theatrical stage debut in the 2005 production of Have You Ever Seen a Dream Rapping? She is a prominent grassroots educator, community organizer, and a co-founder of the All Stars Project (along with FrEd Newman), where she is the dean of UX, the All Stars' school for continuing development. In 2006, Dr. Fulani founded "Operation Conversation: Cops and Kids," a series of performance workshops for police officers and Black and Latino youth. Dr. Fulani holds a doctorate in developmental psychology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and has been active in independent politics for close to three decades.
MOSHE YASSUR (Mr. Hirsch) 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. Moshe is happy to work with Woodie again after forty years.

Woodie King, JR. (director) is the founder and producing director of New Federal Theatre, which has presented over 200 productions in its 40-year history. His directing credits include work in film as well as theater. He has directed at the Cleveland Playhouse, Stage West, Virginia Museum Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, Northlight Theatre, New Federal Theatre, The Ensemble Studio, Arena Stage, Geva Theatre, American Place Theatre, Jomandi Theatre, Center Stage of Baltimore, Indiana Repertory Company, Studio Arena in Buffalo, New York Shakespeare Festival, Billie Holiday Theatre, St.Louis Black Repertory Theatre, and Crossroads Theatre Company. In 1985, he was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Boseman and Lena and in the 1987/88 season he won a NAACP Image Award for directing Checkmates at Inner City Cultural Center (Los Angeles). In 1988, he directEd Checkmates on Broadway. In 1987, he directed Charles Dutton in Splendid Mummer at American Place Theatre; in 1990, God's Trombones at the Ford's Theatre, and Joe Turner's Come and Gone at Detroit Rep. In 1991/92 he directed A Raisin in the Sun and The Member of the Wedding, both at GeVa. He directed Good Black Don't Crack and Love and Marriage and New York City at the Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn, and produced and directed Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil, for which he won 1993 AUDELCO Awards as Best Director and Best Play of the Year. In 1994, he directed A Raisin in the Sun, starring Esther Rolle and Kenny Leon, at The ALLIANCE THEATRE in Atlanta. In 2006 he directed Angels in America: Millennium Approaches at Ohio State University and The Piano Lesson at Tennessee Repertory Theatre in Nashville. He wrote and directed the documentary The Black Theatre Movement: "A Raisin in the Sun" to the Present, which aired on public television in 1979; a collection of his essays, Black Theater: Present Condition, was published in 1981; and his book The Impact of Race: Theater and Culture was published in 2003. He has been a visiting professor at Oberlin College, Florida State University, Ohio State University, Yale University, Penn State, North Carolina A&T, Columbia, NYU, Hunter, Brooklyn College, and Sarah Lawrence College, where in 2008 he directed Lynn Nottage's Crumbs from the Table of Joy. Also in 2008, he directed Derek Walcott's The Odyssey at SUNY Purchase. Mr. King is currently an artist-in-residence at Emerson College in Boston. He is the recipient of an Obie Award for Sustained Achievement, a TCG Peter Zeisler Award, AEA's Paul Robeson Award and Rosetta LeNoire Award and the Aimé Césaire Lifetime Achievement Award; as well as Honorary Doctorates from Wayne State University, the College of Wooster; Lehman College and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

FREd Newman (playwright) is the artistic director emeritus and playwright-in-residence of the Castillo Theatre. Mr. Hirsch Died Yesterday is the first of 33 plays and musicals he has written since 1986. These plays include: Billie & Malcolm: A Demonstration, Lenin's Breakdown, Outing Wittgenstein, Sally and Tom (The American Way) and Stealin' Home. Mr. Newman served as artistic director for the Castillo Theatre from 1989 until his retirement in 2005. His play Satchel: A Requiem for Racism was co-produced by Castillo and the New Federal Theatre in 2008. In addition, he is one of America's foremost directors of the work of the German post-dramatic playwright Heiner Müller and has also directed plays by Bertolt Brecht, Aimé Césaire, Yosef Mundy and Peter Weiss. In 2002 Mr. Newman wrote and directed the independent film, Nothing Really Happens (Memories of Aging Strippers), which won several film festival awards. In addition to his theatrical work, Mr. Newman is an independent political pioneer, a social therapist and a philosopher. He is a founder of the All Stars Project, Inc. Mr. Hirsch Died Yesterday appears in Still on the Corner and Other Postmodern Political Plays by FrEd Newman, an anthology of his plays published in 1998.

Photo credit: Ronald L. Glassman

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