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Theater For The New City To Present New Yiddish Rep in DI FROYEN (THE WOMEN)

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The play is a one-act drama of an abused Orthodox Jewish wife who is being kept from her children.

Theater For The New City To Present New Yiddish Rep in DI FROYEN (THE WOMEN)

From January 22-30, Theater for the New City will present the New Yiddish Rep's production of "Di Froyen" (The Women), based on the play "Women's Minyan" by Naomi Ragen, adapted for the Yiddish Rep by Melissa Weisz and Malky Goldman. Director is Rachel Botchan. The play is a one-act drama of an abused Orthodox Jewish wife who is being kept from her children.

"Di Froyen" is the second in a two-part series of plays presented by Theater for the New City that deal with identity, schizophrenia and self-empowerment in the strict Orthodox Jewish communities of New York. The first, playing January 12 to 19, is "Crazy Meshugga Hurricane Earthquake" by Amy Coleman, directed by David Mandelbaum. That six-character play is the story of an unlikely connection that develops between a middle aged non-religious Jewish woman and a young Hasidic man struggling with schizophrenia. (More info: https://www.jsnyc.com/season/crazy_meshuge.htm). Together the two plays present a unique perspective on tensions among Haredi Jews, who work hard to separate themselves from non-Haredi elements in modern society but are still part of the greater Jewish community.

"Di Froyen" tells the story of a woman from the Hasidic community of Brooklyn who has fled an abusive marriage and after being excommunicated and slandered, is being kept from her children. After two years, she gets a court order giving her visitation rights and returns with a secular Jewish social worker to enforce the order. She meets resistance from the women in her family until the story emerges that she has not actually abandoned her family, but fled for her life from a prominent husband who has a history of abuse. The women surrounding her are brought to realize what has happened. They ultimately unite to defend her and to empower women in their community suffering the same fate.

The Yiddish of the play reflects the evolving vernacular, sometimes characterized as "Yinglish," that is spoken on the streets of Hasidic Brooklyn. Projected supertitles will enable non-Yiddish speakers to keep up.

"Di Froyen" illustrates the injustices toward religious women in abusive marriages. Although state and local jurisdictions have made great advances in protection from abusive spouses, ultra-religious Jews are discouraged from going outside the system of Jewish religious laws because to do so would disparage the unique assumptions and directions of God's just and righteous laws. In such cases--in the hearts of Haredi communities--rabbinical courts take precedence over secular family courts and a husband's religious status may discredit accusations being brought against him.

This play is based on "Women's Minyan," a Hebrew play by Naomi Ragen that was based on a true story. Ragen's play was adapted for New Yiddish Rep (NYR) by Melissa Weisz and Malky Goldman, who were both born into the Hasidic community.

Melissa Weisz (they-them) is an actor, writer and producer who grew up in the Hasidic community of Brooklyn and made their acting debut as Manke in the NYT critic's pick "God of Vengeance." Their TV credits include "Unorthodox" and "High Maintenance." Their film credits include the award-winning films "Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish," "Felix et Meira" and "Tzadeikis." They were featured in Vogue's "American women in transformation" and were honored by the Jewish Week magazine in their "36 under 36 -Millennials pushing change through compassion." Melissa was the subject of NBC's viral video "Ex-Hasidic Woman Embraces her Queer Identity" and them's video, "Can you be religious and queer?" They are the producer and host of "The Forbidden Apple Podcast," which explores the complex relationship between queer people and religion/faith. (Melissaweisz.com)

Malky Goldman is an actor and writer currently located in New York City. Originally from Jerusalem, she relocated to the United States to study, and graduated from Hunter College with a degree in Studio Art. Her creative portfolio spans several visual media disciplines that include film, theater and painting. Her most recent acting work includes a Chasidic horror film, "The Vigil" (Blumhouse/BoulderLight) directed by Kieth Thomas, which premiered at TIFF and is distributed by IFC. She also appeared in the Netflix mini-series "Unorthodox," the HBO show "High Maintenance" and the film "The Binding of Itzik" by Anika Benkov. She has played Hedda Gabler, starred as Daisy in the Yiddish production of "Rhinoceros" by New Yiddish Rep, and appeared in NYR's critically acclaimed "God of Vengeance."

Director Rachel Botchan appeared in over 40 productions of the Drama Desk and Obie-winning Pearl Theatre Company. She has also performed with the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene in several productions, most recently "The Sorceress." With New Yiddish Rep she appeared in "God of Vengeance." Regionally, she has worked at Two River, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Milwaukee Rep., Virginia Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, among others. She is also an audiobook narrator and teaches Shakespeare at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

The piece will be perfomed by Caraid O'Brien, Rachel Botchan, Suzanne Toren, Lori Leifer, Dylan Seders Hoffman, Melissa Weisz and Amy Coleman. Set designer is Mark Marcante. Lighting designer is Alexander Bartenieff. Costume designer is Malky Goldman.

New Yiddish Rep (NYR) (www.newyiddishrep.org) has endeavored since its founding in 2007 to move Yiddish theater into a post-nostalgia, 21st century phase of development, enabling members of the Yiddish theater community by giving them a platform to develop new works and explore classics of world theater, both in existing and new translations. At the same time NYR has worked tirelessly to develop new talent from native Yiddish speaking communities by conducting writing and acting workshops to help populate a future generation of Yiddish actors and playwrights.

NYR has produced classics of the Yiddish theater by Sholem Aleichem, Moshe Nadir, I. L. Peretz,, and most recently a critically acclaimed production of Sholem Asch's "God Of Vengeance." It commissioned and produced the translation of the ground breaking Yiddish world premiere of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting For Godot" as well as the Yiddish world premiere's of Eugene Ioneco's "Rhinoceros," Hanoch Levin's "The Labor Of Life" and "The Whore From Ohio," and Slawomir Mrozek's "Out At Sea." It produced Chaver Paver's translation of Clifford Odets' "Awake And Sing." Its celebrated production of Joseph Buloff's Yiddish translation of "Death Of A Salesman" garnered Drama Desk nominations for Best Revival of a Play and Best Actor (Avi Hoffman).


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