East Towards Home

Jan 16, 2014 to Feb 2, 2014

Location 155 First Ave.
New York, NC
Cost $15
Details "East Towards Home" by Billy Yalowitz brings to life three generations of Jewish left-wing culture in New York City, combining tales of radical choreographers of the 1930's and 40's, texts and songs from Woody Guthrie, and first-person stories of the author's NYC Jewish left-wing childhood in the 1960's and 70's. With loose-limbed storytelling, visual projections, animation, modern dance and live music, it offers a personal and impassioned look at the culture and history of the American Jewish radical left-wing community at a time when this legacy is in danger of passing into obscurity. Theater for the New City will present the play's world premiere run January 16 to February 2, directed by David Schechter.

At its heart, "East Towards Home" is a coming of age tale that starts out in the author's boyhood, in an era when Jewish left-wing urban culture was fading. It zigzags back and forth in time, juxtaposing memories of his cross-country hitchhiking journey in the 1970's with scenes of Woody Guthrie's collaboration with the New Dance Group in 1942. As a young man, Yalowitz passed through a latter day dustbowl with a guitar strapped to his backpack, attempting to compose pure and populist folk anthems. The "backstory" is that Marjorie Mazia, a Martha Graham dancer and a pillar of the New Dance Group, was Woody Guthrie's second wife and part of Yalowitz's extended community. In his youth, Yalowitz was entranced by the idea of Guthrie as an "American Voice" (as were Bob Dylan and Ramblin Jack Elliott) and tried to "come of age" by going west. But historically, Guthrie actually came east and fell in love with someone who might have been Yalowitz's grandmother. Essentially, Woody had embraced the world that the young man was trying to escape: the left-wing community of New York City, with its cooperative housing projects, summer colonies and camps of a receding Jewish left-wing.

The play is performed by Eleanor Reissa, David Kremenitzer, Brian Gunter and the author. Eleanor Reissa played the title role of Yentl for the National Yiddish Theater’s critically acclaimed production, and was a TONY nominee for direction of "Those Were The Days," which she also choreographed and starred in. She is a former Artistic Director of the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre. The production makes abundant use of multimedia by Dustin Grella, who has assembled its complex animation and projections. Period choreography is by Michael Raine. The score, comprised of Woody Guthrie songs Labor songs of the 1930's to the 50's, is performed by Brian Gunter on mandolin, banjo, guitar, dobro and harmonica, joined by Billy Yalowitz on guitar.
Venue Theater for the New City
Website http://www.theaterforthenewcity.net

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