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Theater J Announces Five Yiddish Theater Lab Readings

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Theater J Announces Five Yiddish Theater Lab Readings

Theater J, a program of the Edlavitch DCJCC and the nation's largest and most prominent Jewish theater, announces readings of five plays during the third year of its signature Yiddish Theater Lab: Golem Stories by Edward Einhorn on October 28, 2019; The Red Beads by Rinne Groff (adapted from a play by Osip Dymov) on December 2, 2019; A Hidden Corner by Peretz Hirschbein, translated by David S. Lifson, on February 3, 2020; One of Those by Paula Prilutski, adapted and translated by Allen Lewis Rickman, on April 6, 2020; and Miriam by Alix Sobler, freely adapted from Peretz Hirschbein's Miriam, date to be determined. Tickets are Pay-What-You-Choose and are available at www.theaterj.org or 202-777-3210. All readings are at 1529 16th Street NW, Washington, DC in
Cafritz Hall.

Theater J is dedicated to celebrating and preserving Jewish theatrical heritage, of which Yiddish theater is a critical part. In establishing the Yiddish Theater Lab in 2017, Theater J committed to reviving and re-imagining neglected Yiddish dramatic works of historical and artistic significance and bringing them to a modern audience via new English language readings, workshops, commissions, and productions. Theater J has received enthusiastic response to the first two years of the Yiddish Theater Lab, including the full production of The Jewish Queen Lear in spring 2019, about which Washington City Paper wrote: "with this, the inaugural production of Theater J's Yiddish Theater Lab, one wonders if there are more unconventional treasures awaiting rediscovery."

Theater J Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr notes, "this third year of the Yiddish Theater Lab is a research year, a critical time where we dig through scripts, build relationships with translators, develop commissions, and present English-language readings directed by innovative DC-area artists who breathe new life into these lost classics. I am thrilled that we are creating and maintaining a pipeline of work that will not only sustain the Lab but will also infuse the national theater scene with both new work and forgotten classics of the Yiddish stage."

Golem Stories by Edward Einhorn

Directed by Jenna Duncan

October 28, 2019 at 7:00 PM

About the play: It is 1590 in the city of Prague, and the Jewish community is under attack. When Rabbi Lowe creates a Golem to help protect his people, the line between stories and reality is blurred. Part love story, part ghost story, this play is a new take on the legend of the golem, put in the context of other Jewish legends of the supernatural. A spooky Jewish fable just right for the season!

About the playwright: Edward Einhorn is a playwright, children's book author, director, and librettist, based in New York. He is the Artistic Director of Untitled Theater Company No. 61: A Theater of Ideas - a New York independent theater company. His work has been performed across the United States and in England, Germany, and the Czech Republic.

The Red Beads by Rinne Groff*

Based on The Singer of His Sorrow by Osip Dymov

As adapted by Adrian Silver and Rinne Groff from a translation by Adrian Silver

Directed by Johanna Gruenhut

December 2, 2019 at 7:00 PM

About the play: When a father's bedtime story magically comes to life, his young daughter is plunged into the world of Yoshke, a poor shtetl poet, desperately in love with a woman who doesn't love him back. Through the story, the daughter learns the pain - and the beauty - of letting love triumph over logic.
*Formerly titled The Rented Bridegroom.

About the Playwrights: Rinne Groff is a playwright based in New York. Her plays and musicals have been produced and commissioned by Yale Rep, Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Berkeley Rep, and many others. Groff's play Compulsion, or the House Behind will be produced at Theater J as the final play in the 19/20 season. Osip Dymov (1878 - 1959) is the pen name used by Yosif Isidorovich Perelman, a prolific writer, journalist and Yiddish playwright. Born in modern-day Poland, Dymov immigrated to the United States in 1913 at the age of 35 where he sought to improve the artistic quality of Yiddish theater. His most popular plays included The Bronx Express (1919), featured in Theater J's 17/18 Yiddish Theater Lab reading series; and The Singer of His Sorrows (1914). Over his career, Dymov published more than 25 plays, a short story collection, a book of selected works, two volumes of memoirs, and dozens of essays and newspaper articles.

A Hidden Corner by Peretz Hirschbein, translated by David S. Lifson

Directed by Brendon Fox
February 3, 2020 at 7:00 PM

About the Play: Noah, the son of the miller, and Tzirl, the daughter of the gravedigger, are in love. But when a newly constructed mill drives a wedge between their families, their future together looks grim. In this Romeo and Juliet tale set in a shtetl, can young love overcome dueling families, an arranged marriage, physical violence and even ghostly spirits?

About the playwright: Peretz Hirschbein (1880-1948) was a Yiddish-language playwright, novelist, journalist, travel writer, and theater director. Born in Poland, he lived for a while in Odessa where he established a short-lived Yiddish theater company and travelled extensively, eventually settling in Los Angeles. Although Hirschbein wrote A Hidden Corner (A Farvorfen Vinkel) in 1912, Maurice Schwartz's 1918 staging of the play at his Irving Place Theater in New York marked the beginning of Yiddish art theater in America and helped to usher in the second golden age of Yiddish theater. Hirschbein's 38 Yiddish dramas were also performed in Russian, Hebrew, English, German, Spanish, and French by theater troupes all over the world.

One of Those by Paula Prilutski, adapted and translated by Allen Lewis Rickman

Directed by Kevin Place

April 6, 2020 at 7:00 PM

About the play: When Judith, still reeling from the loss of her mother, clashes with her father's new wife, she rebels against the patriarchy and is thrown out of her home. With no options available, the strong-willed Judith makes choices she will forever regret; and despite her best efforts and the help of family and friends, Judith finds herself unable to escape the chains of her history.

About the playwright: Paula Prilutski (1876 - unknown) was one of the very few women playwrights in the Yiddish theater to have been identified. Born in Warsaw, Prilutski originally wrote in Polish and switched to Yiddish after being introduced to the Yiddish Theater scene in Poland. In addition to full-length plays, she wrote one-act plays and poetry. One of Those was originally presented by the legendary Esther-Rokhl Kaminska - "The Mother of Yiddish Theater" -in Warsaw in 1912. Prilutski's fate during World War II remains unknown to this day.

Miriam by Alix Sobler, freely adapted from Peretz Hirschbein's Miryam

Time and Date to be announced

About the play: When Miriam, a Russian immigrant and sex worker shows up at Grace's door looking as though she's seen a ghost, Grace and Natalie begrudgingly take her in. Chased by something, and clearly afraid to go back outside, Miriam attempts to keep them in the room and win them to her side by engaging them in a story from her past. But with their different backgrounds, histories and outlooks on life, can they ever arrive at a place where they agree on something?

About the playwright: Alix Sobler is a writer and performer from New York. Her play Sheltered won the 2018 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition and will be receiving its second production at Theater J during the 2019-2020 season. Her work has been developed or produced in theaters across North America. She is a graduate of Brown University and received her MFA in playwriting from Columbia University in 2017.


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