An American Family, a new Yiddish adaptation of Sylvia Regan's 1940 drama Morning Star, opens Nov. 19 for a two-month run (through Jan. 21, 2001) at Theatre Four on West 54th Street. This play with music, which began previews Nov. 12, runs in repertory with Kids and Yiddish 2000, a Sunday morning revue for children and adults.
An American Family, (in Yiddish, “An Amerikaner Mishpokhe”), is an immigrant family's experiences from 1910 to 1931, encompassing the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, World War I, the roaring Twenties and the Depression. Morning Star's strong matriarch and its themes of assimilation and identity have struck a chord with audiences across America — including a recent production at Steppenwolf helmed by Frank Galati — as well as in Great Britain, Israel, Australia, and Argentina. As An American Family, the play will be performed entirely in Yiddish, with simultaneous translation into English and Russian available via headset.
Kids and Yiddish 2000 mixes a bissel of Yiddish into a 90 percent-English program with a puppeteer, a storyteller, audience participation games and songs. The cast includes several child performers.
The Folksbiene (literally, "People's Theatre") was launched in 1915 with a Yiddish-language production of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People. The group hoped to provide modern, dramatic and socially-conscious alternatives to Second Avenue's light, escapist shows. At the start of the 21st century, under the artistic direction of Tony-nominated director Eleanor Reissa and world-renowned musician Zalmen Mlotek, the group has turned its efforts to cultivating new writers, performers and audiences for this rich theatre tradition.
A second Yiddish theatre troupe, The Yiddish Public Theatre, recently formed by former Folksbiene artistic director Zypora Spaisman, is currently presenting Green Fields at the Mazer Theatre on East Broadway. Tickets for An American Family range from $25 to $37.50. Tickets for Kids and Yiddish 2000 are $12 for children under 12 and $15 for adults. Both shows are performed at Theatre Four, 424 West 55th Street. For information, call (212) 213 2120 , call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200, or visit the website at www.folksbiene.org.