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Michelle Tabnick
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LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture at the 14th Street Y Announces 2018-2019 Fellows

by Michelle Tabnick
September 18, 2018
14th Street Y
344 East 14th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 780-0800
LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture
at the 14th Street Y
Announces 2018-2019 Fellows

LABA: Laboratory for Jewish Culture announces the 2018-2019 Fellows: a group of thirteen culture-makers, a mix of visual artists, writers, musicians, playwrights, dancers, composers, film-and theater-makers, and directors who are brought together to study classic Jewish texts in a non-religious, open-minded setting centered on a chosen theme; this year's theme is LIFE + DEATH.

The 2018-2019 Fellows are Dmitri Barcomi, Ari Brand, Maya Ciarrocchi, Jessica Tamar Deutch, Yochai Greenfeld, Jeanne Heifetz, Marques Hollie, Stav Palti-Negev, Richard Saudek, Mariano Wainsztein, Ilana Sichel, Yonatan Gutfeld and Alex Weiser.

Highlights for this season's LABAlive events include:
—Dmitri Bercomi's Necrophoresis, a cross-medium dance-theater piece exploring the death rituals of ants and the life of Anna Freud
—Avi Brand's full-length play, exploring the AIDS epidemic in NYC through discoveries made about the death of his father, Natan, a virtuosic concert pianist, lapsed Orthodox Jew and closeted gay man
—Maya Ciarnochhi's Yizkor, a performance-installation that reveals the lost and forgotten spaces left by the dead, specifically the destroyed architectural site of Ozarow, Poland, the shtetl where her family originated
—Jessica Tamar Deutsch's Illustrated Life and Death, a series of large ink drawings with text that studies the practices of birth doulas and chevra kadishas (groups that prepare the body for burial) to gain insights into these moments of Life + Death and the significance they carry in a Jewish (and human) context
—Yochai Greenfeld's Yiddish Drag Queen show, exploring the edgy medium of drag performance and its recent acceptance into the mainstream through the prism of ancient Aramaic and the cultural context of Yiddish
—Jeanne Heifetz's Pre-Occupied, a series of drawings that addresses mortality through the formal language of cemetery maps
—Marques Hollie's Go Down, Moshe, a retelling of Exodus using the musical tradition of negro spirituals, civil-rights era music and the written narratives of enslaved people
—Stav Palti-Negev's play adaptation of Hieronymous Bosch's painting, "The Garden of Earthly Delights," a triptych of three possible options of existence: Paradise, Hell and Something In-Between
—Richard Saudek's weird and wistful Clown Show, featuring two clowns (until one dies), with a Chagall-esque fiddler to accompany the hijinks
—Ilana Sichel's non-fiction project (part-memoir, part-essayistic grappling) about the death of her 34-year-old brother to cancer and end-of-life ethics
—Mariano Wainsztein's song cycle of Hebrew poems by the self-exiled poet Ha'Loazy, dealing with the death of "home" and the loss of identity while celebrating the minimalist economics of the Hebrew language
—Alex Weiser's opera, State of the Jews, which follows the last year in the life of Theodor Herzl, interweaving historical and personal narratives as his struggle to secure a Jewish homeland takes a toll on his family life
—Jewish Ghost Stories: Demons, Monsters and Madness in the Bible and Talmud, short, scary stories taken from Classical Jewish texts. The 1915 film The Golem will be screened, with live musical accompaniment by LABA Fellows

"Repent one day before your death," says Rabbi Eliezer in the Mishnah. Because we can't, of course, know which day is going to be our last. And so our lives should be a continual process of repentance. But just what does death mean? Is it an end or a beginning? Is it terrifying or cathartic? Should we dread it or make our peace with its imminence? To address these questions, this year's theme, LIFE + DEATH, will dive into everything from the Bible's most notable departures, to the Talmud's wisdom of letting go, to Kabbalah's ideas about the transmigration of souls. Reading these classical Jewish texts, we will wrestle with humanity's two central modes of existence: to be, and not to be.
This year marks the 11th Anniversary of the ground-breaking series by LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture, which pushes the boundaries of what Jewish art can be and what Jewish texts can teach.

Liel Leibovitz will be the lead LABA teacher this year. Leibovitz is a senior writer for Tablet magazine, and one of the hosts of Unorthodox, the magazine's popular podcast. He is the author of several books, including, most recently, A Broken Hallelujah: Rock n' Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen. Other LABA staff includes Ronit Muszkatblit, Artistic Director; Ruby Namdar, Resident Scholar; and Hanan Elstein, Editorial Director.

"Of all the questions that had troubled mankind through the ages, two stand alone: What is the meaning of life? And what happens when we die? We will, of course, offer no answers to these existential quandaries, but by reading the Book of Genesis closely, we will seek inspiration in the wisdom of our forefathers, preparing ourselves not only for our inevitable death but also for our equally inevitable life." - Liel Leibovitz
Each year, The Theater at the 14th Street Y presents the residency program of LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture. The goal is to provide a big-picture narrative focused on social awareness and change that transcends cultures and borders. The Theater supports the creation of new art and culture by providing the space, time, and resources needed to create new work. Inspired by the 14 study sessions of the fellowship, the Fellows will share their new works with the public in the LABAlive Series at the 14th Street Y.
LABAlive Series
February 2, April 18, May 25, @7:30PM
Experience excerpts of new works-in-progress presented by the 14th Street Y's LABA Fellows, devising new work around the theme of LIFE + DEATH. Each artist's unique contemplation presented on stage weaves into a multidisciplinary evening shared with the public. LABA encourages artists to test boundaries, take risks, and discover ways in which classical Jewish text can inspire new, deep and meaningful works, which are then coupled with a theatrical teaching of text to enhance and widen the context of each piece. At each LABAlive, Fellows intrigue and inspire, leaving audiences with a curiosity to see more. Many of the Fellows' works go on to second-stage productions, with many premiering at the 14th Street Y the following year.

Full Season Tickets and detailed information on shows available at www.14streety.org/tickets.

$14@14Y Flex Pass
Subscribe to the 14th Street Y and save with Flex Pass. For $42, choose any three shows from the upcoming season at www.14streety.secure.force.com/ticket#details_a0S36000007O40PEAS.

Dmitri Barcomi is a theater director from New York City. His artistic goals include creating theater from unusual source materials and exploring technology/multimedia in live performance. His work has been featured at Edinburgh Fringe, La Mama, Dixon Place, The Brick, and more. Dmitri is also a violinist and works in theater production. Education: BA, The New School. Directors Lab North alum & Lincoln Center Directors Lab member.

Ari Brand is an actor, musician, writer, teacher and lifelong New Yorker. His current projects include developing a play based on the life of his father, an Israeli-American pianist who died of AIDS in 1990. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and two-year-old son.

Maya Ciarrocchi is a Bronx-based interdisciplinary artist whose work addresses identity and the body as a site of history. Her work has been presented in galleries and institutions, nationally and internationally and she has received funding from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Jerome Foundation, and the MAP Fund as well as residencies from the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Millay Colony, and UCross Foundation.

Jessica Tamar Deutsch is a New York based artist. Her work explores the intersection of ancient Jewish practice and contemporary culture. She earned her BFA in illustration at Parsons School of Design. Deutsch has completed residencies with Art Kibbuts, Brandeis Collegiate Institute, and was included in the Jewish Week's 36 under 36 in 2018. The Illustrated Pirkei Avot, A Graphic Novel of Jewish Ethics, is her first published book.

Yochai Greenfeld, dancer, actor and singer, was born and raised in Israel, where his artistic passion evolved among the books and the scrolls at Yeshiat Maale Gilboa. He believes in art as a form of multi-layered communication, and aspires to create meaningful, amusing and inspiring conversations in his work.
Yonatan Gutfeld grew up in Jerusalem, where he studied music composition. He was active in the Tel Aviv singer-songwriter scene and toured the country with his band after releasing his debut album. Since 2012, Yonatan has lived in New York City, where he records his songs, teaches and writes music for theatre productions. In 2017, he released Time's Tyranny, an album of new compositions to Shakespeare sonnets in Hebrew translation.

Jeanne Heifetz came to visual art by an indirect route: She has two degrees in English and originally worked as a writer and editor. Her artwork has been shown in 21 states, the U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Italy, and Israel. Her current series addresses mortality through the abstract language of cemetery maps.
Marques Hollie, jewsician, is an operatic tenor and facilitator of creative Jewish ritual whose work focuses on creating Jew-of-color-centered ritual experiences. Marques was named one of New York Jewish Week's 36 Under 36 (2018) and a Fellow in the Union for Reform Judaism's JewV'Nation Fellowship, a visionary leadership development program.

Stav Palti-Negev is a NYC-based Israeli playwright. Stav's work has been developed through Atlantic Theater Company, The Public Theater, The Flea Theater, Asylum Arts, and Israel International Exposure, among others. Produced: Israel Fringe Theater Festival (Acco), Tmuna Theater (Tel-Aviv), Nazareth Theater. She is a 2017 alumna of The Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group.

Richard Saudek is an idiot who likes to make faces at himself in the mirror. He grew up performing in the circus, has done commedia dell'arte in Florence and improv in Chicago; has stilt-walked in Shanghai and been a burlesque bellhop opposite Steve Buscemi. He's portrayed madmen and fools, teaches undergrads in Northern Greece, and has depicted multiple mute characters around NYC Off-Broadway, for some reason.

Ilana Sichel is working on a non-fiction project about the death of her brother and end-of-life-ethics. She has widely published her fiction and non-fiction, and her collaborative guerilla art/activism projects have garnered broad media coverage. Ilana received her MFA in Fiction from the University of Michigan, her AB in Literature from Harvard, and is currently working toward her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at City College.

Mariano Wainsztein was born in Argentina and raised in Israel. He is a composer and a filmmaker. He has won prestigious awards from Franklin Furnace Archive for performance art in 2000 and from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures in 2011. Mariano is a community teaching artist at Educational Alliance and is an Adjunct Professor in the Film and Media Studies department at Hunter College.

Alex Weiser is a composer of music with broad gestures, rich textures, and narrative sweep, which has been called "compelling" (New York Times), and "shapely, melody-rich" (Wall Street Journal). Born and raised in New York City, Weiser creates acutely cosmopolitan music combining a deeply felt historical perspective with a vibrant forward-looking creativity.

About The Theater at the 14th Street Y
The Theater at the 14th Street Y focuses on social awareness and change through big-picture narrative. Inspired by works that welcome artists of all backgrounds, we place artists at the heart of our community and seek to create an inclusive and open cultural experience for all. Art is incubated here.

About LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture
At the core of LABA's mission is the belief that classical Jewish text study can and should be a source of inspiration and creativity for contemporary culture-makers and thinkers. All of the public art created through LABA aims to transcend cultural and social borders by bringing to light the universal themes and questions our artists encounter through their engagement with Jewish thought.

About the 14th Street Y
The 14th Street Y's philosophy is grounded in the belief that contemporary Jewish sensibilities can be a source of inspiration, connection and learning. No matter what your background, we aim to inspire you to live your best life. We're committed to the development of the whole person, to strengthening family connections and to building inclusive and sustainable communities. The 14thStreet Y serves more than 26,000 people annually with a variety of community programs and is proud to be a part of Educational Alliance, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a 129-year history of serving New Yorkers downtown.
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