The world premiere of "Old New Year," a new modern theatre piece developed by the experimental theatre collective Lost & Found Project, will be discovered in Harlem in April-May.
A resident company of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF), Lost & Found Project mines the experiences of young Russian Jews based in New York for new stories and perspectives.
Written in English by Boris Zilberman, and directed by the Drama Desk-nominated Bryna Wasserman, "Old New Year" runs for three weeks from Wednesday April 26 at 7:30pm to May 13 at 3pm, at an alternative space located at 345 East 104th Street in Harlem. The opening is set for Sunday April 30 at 3pm.
In "Old New Year" a mosaic of interrelated personal stories blend together in a New York building where several high-achieving Russian Jews learn about themselves through their connections with others unlike themselves. This updating of the New York immigrant story takes place during the New Year celebration favored by Slavic cultures, called Old New Year, which, because of the Gregorian calendar, takes place ten days after the widely observed December 31st New Year's Eve celebration. The symbolism of this date -- and whether it's old or new -- is mined in unexpected ways.
Led by Anya Zicer and founded in 2011, the award-winning Lost & Found Project calls itself a docu-theatre troupe that creates modern, multi-disciplinary stage productions based on a verbatim technique that delves into the cultural psychology of highly assimilated post-Soviet Jews, most of whom are first or second-generation Americans with varying degrees of awareness of their Jewish and Russian identities.
Produced and curated by Zicer, "Old New Year" is the company's fifth original production. Through workshops, training, and improv sessions, Lost & Found has discovered that the stories of early-generation millennials living in an edgy and transient New York, not only bridge to Soviet and pre-Soviet generations, but these narratives reflect and refract a Yiddish cultural identity that characterized successive generations coming to America to fit in and try to thrive in a chaos of cultures and world views. All of Lost & Found plays are in the authentic vernacular English of its characters.
Though its primary focus is to reach mainstream theatre audiences and to connect its actors to this wider arena, Lost & Found Project became an affiliate and core program of Folksbiene RU -- a program that engages with New York's Russian communities. This affiliation, begun in 2013, allows the company to penetrate and challenge this often insular community. Past productions are the original productions "Doroga" (2011-12), "Covers" (2013-14), "Knock" (2015), "Shayna" (2016, an audio drama available on iTunes), as well as a series of immersive pop-up theatre events throughout the city called "Edges & Borders" (2016-2017). The company won the Best Play Award at the ArtOkraina Festival in St. Petersburg in 2015.
"Old New Year's" cast of nine includes Rebecca Karpovskiy; Masha King (Girls, Madam Secretary, The Videoblogs); Elena V. Levenzon; Sergey Nagorny; the Israeli film, stage and teleivision actor/director Gera Sandler ("Meduzot," "Bruchim Habayim ve," "Mishtatfim Bezaarchem," "Avanim"); Elena Rickman; Ruslan Verkhovskiy; Anya Zicer (The Americans), and Boris Zilberman. Bryna Wasserman was nominated (with co-director Motl Didner) for a Best Direction of a Musical Drama Desk Award for last year's breakaway hit musical in Yiddish, "The Golden Bride."
Folksbiene RU is a partnership initiative of Genesis Philanthropy Group and the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. NYTF, one of the world's longest continuously producing theatre company's, now in its 102nd consecutive season, is in permanent residence at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The company's mission is to celebrate the Jewish experience through the performing arts and to transmit a rich cultural legacy in exciting new ways.