Sharyn Rothstein, last represented on the New York stage by the Manhattan Theatre Club production of her By the Water, is writing a Broadway-aimed stage version of the 1975 hit independent film Hester Street, according to the New York Times.
A previous report in indiewire.com stated that Ira Deutchman, a film professor at Columbia University who is also the co-founder of Emerging Pictures, is working with producer Michael Rabinowitz to develop the play. The critically acclaimed film earned Carol Kane an Oscar nomination for her performance as a Jewish immigrant, who arrives in America to find that her husband has “abandoned his past existence and started a new life on the Lower East Side.” Joan Micklin Silver, who wrote and directed the film, is consulting on the project.
When asked whether he believes Hester Street is still relevant, Deutchman told indiewire, “It’s a story about immigration and assimilation. It couldn’t be more timely! That was the other thing that was on my mind, other than the fact that the piece itself is timeless. It’s historically significant simply because I can’t think of another example of a woman writer-director in the '70s actually making a film that had the impact that Hester Street did. And then on top of that, it was a hit in the completely independent realm outside of the studio system.”
In a statement playwright Rothstein discussed her own connection to the Hester Street story, explaining, “My great-grandmother came to America alone as a 16-year-old girl and raised her family just north of Delancey Street…It’s a story as old as our nation and just as relevant today.”
Hester Street, which brought in more than $6 million, also starred Doris Roberts and Steven Keats.
Producers Deutchman and Rabinowitz plan to stage readings of the play in 2017 with Broadway as the ultimate goal.