“Di Froyen” (The Women)

By Melissa Weisz and Malky Goldman
Directed by Rachel Botchan
January 22 – January 30
Jan 22, 26, 27, 28, 29 @ 8 PM; SUN 23, 30 @ 3 PM


Di Froyen(The Women)

Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street)
Presented by Theater for the New City and New Yiddish Rep
Evenings at 8:00:  Sat 1/22, Wed 1/26, Th 1/27, Fri 1/28, Sat 1/29;
Matinees at 3:00 PM:  Sun 1/23 and Sun 1/30
$18 gen. Adm., $15 seniors & students
Box office www.theaterforthenewcity.net, 212-254-1109.
Running time: 70 min
Critics are invited on or after January 22.  Opens January 22.
Photos are available at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/F5FbxTUUb2Leb44f6

There will be a special Live Stream performance of “Di Froyen” on Sunday, January 30th at 3 PM, $18

Di Froyen” is the second in a two-part series of plays presented by Theater for the New City that deal with identity, schizophrenia and self-empowerment in the strict Orthodox Jewish communities of New York.  The first, playing January 12 to 19, is “Crazy Meshugga Hurricane Earthquake” by Amy Coleman, directed by David Mandelbaum.  That six-character play is the story of an unlikely connection that develops between a middle aged non-religious Jewish woman and a young Hasidic man struggling with schizophrenia.  (More info:  https://www.jsnyc.com/season/crazy_meshuge.htm).  Together the two plays present a unique perspective on tensions among Haredi Jews, who work hard to separate themselves from non-Haredi elements in modern society but are still part of the greater Jewish community.

Di Froyen” tells the story of a woman from the Hasidic community of Brooklyn who has fled an abusive marriage and after being excommunicated and slandered, is being kept from her children. After two years, she gets a court order giving her visitation rights and returns with a secular Jewish social worker to enforce the order.  She meets resistance from the women in her family until the story emerges that she has not actually abandoned her family, but fled for her life from a prominent husband who has a history of abuse.  The women surrounding her are brought to realize what has happened.  They ultimately unite to defend her and to empower women in their community suffering the same fate.

The Yiddish of the play reflects the evolving vernacular, sometimes characterized as “Yinglish,” that is spoken on the streets of Hasidic Brooklyn.  Projected supertitles will enable non-Yiddish speakers to keep up.

This play is based on “Women’s Minyan,” a Hebrew play by Naomi Ragen that was based on a true story.  Ragen’s play was adapted for New Yiddish Rep (NYR) by Melissa Weisz and Malky Goldman, who were both born into the Hasidic community.

Melissa Weisz (they-them) is an actor, writer and producer who grew up in the Hasidic community of Brooklyn and made their acting debut as Manke in the NYT critic’s pick “God of Vengeance.”  Their TV credits include “Unorthodox” and “High Maintenance.” Their film credits include the award-winning films “Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish,” “Felix et Meira” and “Tzadeikis.” They were featured in Vogue’s “American women in transformation” and were honored by the Jewish Week magazine in their “36 under 36 -Millennials pushing change through compassion.” Melissa was the subject of NBC’s viral video “Ex-Hasidic Woman Embraces her Queer Identity” and them’s video, “Can you be religious and queer?” They are the producer and host of “The Forbidden Apple Podcast,” which explores the complex relationship between queer people and religion/faith. (Melissaweisz.com)

Malky Goldman is an actor and writer currently located in New York City. Originally from Jerusalem, she relocated to the United States to study, and graduated from Hunter College with a degree in Studio Art.  Her creative portfolio spans several visual media disciplines that include film, theater and painting. Her most recent acting work includes a Chasidic horror film, “The Vigil” (Blumhouse/BoulderLight) directed by Kieth Thomas, which premiered at TIFF and is distributed by IFC. She also appeared in the Netflix mini-series “Unorthodox,” the HBO show “High Maintenance” and the film “The Binding of Itzik” by Anika Benkov. She has played Hedda Gabler, starred as Daisy in the Yiddish production of “Rhinoceros” by New Yiddish Rep, and appeared in NYR’s critically acclaimed “God of Vengeance.”

Director Rachel Botchan appeared in over 40 productions of the Drama Desk and Obie-winning Pearl Theatre Company.  She has also performed with the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene in several productions, most recently “The Sorceress.” With New Yiddish Rep she appeared in “God of Vengeance.” Regionally, she has worked at Two River, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Milwaukee Rep., Virginia Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, among others. She is also an audiobook narrator and teaches Shakespeare at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Performed by:
Caraid O’Brien
Rachel Botchan
Suzanne Toren
Lori Leifer
Dylan Seder Hoffman
Melissa Weisz
Amy Coleman

Set designer Mark Marcante
Lighting designer Alexander Bartenieff
Costume designer Malky Goldman.

New Yiddish Rep (NYR) (www.newyiddishrep.org) has endeavored since its founding in 2007 to move  Yiddish theater into a post-nostalgia, 21st century phase of development, enabling members of the Yiddish theater community by  giving them a platform to develop new works and explore classics of world theater, both in existing and new translations. At the same time NYR has worked tirelessly to develop new talent from native Yiddish speaking  communities by conducting  writing and acting workshops to help populate  a future generation of Yiddish actors and playwrights.

COVID Protocol and Etiquette:
As of August 17 2021, people 12 and older are required to show proof they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for emergency use by the FDA or WHO.
Children ages 5 to 11 are now required to have proof of vaccination. They must show they have received at least one dose of a vaccine. Starting January 29, 2022, children ages 5 to 11 must also show proof of full vaccination.

Proof of vaccination may include the NYC Vaccination Record, CDC Vaccination Card (or photo), Excelsior Pass or NYC COVID Safe App.

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