TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR…

by Seth Rozin
mainstage theater
APR 28-MAY 20/2018

What do you do if you’re the last two Jews in Afghanistan? You re-write the Torah, of course! Ishaq and Zeblyan are on a mission to save Judaism in Kabul by rebuilding their synagogue and keeping the faith alive, but only if they don’t kill each other first. Jeremiah Kissel (Fiddler on the Roof, Broken Glass, The King of Second Avenue) and Joel Colodner (Regular Singing, Freud’s Last Session, Imagining Madoff) star in this Vaudeville-inspired play, doing their best in a shtick-y situation.

 

Subscribe to 2017-2018 today!
MAINSTAGE SEASON

Ideation   |   Oleanna   |   Man of La Mancha   |   The Bakelite Masterpiece    |    Two Jews Walk into a War…

STATEMENTS OF SURVIVAL SERIES
Unveiled   |   Statements after an Arrest under the Immorality Act    |   Lonely Planet   |   Ripe Frenzy 

Joel Colodner*

Ishaq

Joel Colodner*

Ishaq

JOEL COLODNER* returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in Regular Singing, Freud’s Last Session, Imagining Madoff, The Elephant Man, Three Viewings, and Indulgences. Other area credits include Sorry and That Hopey Changey Thing (Stoneham Theatre); Sweet and Sad (Gloucester Stage); It’s a Wonderful Life, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Mrs. Whitney (Merrimack Repertory Theatre); Our Town (Huntington Theatre Company); The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev (Lyric Stage Company); The Light in the Piazza (SpeakEasy Stage Company); and numerous roles with Actors’ Shakespeare Project. Regional credits include Streamers, Comedians, and Hamlet (Arena Stage); The Rainmaker (Guthrie Theatre); An American Clock, Measure for Measure, and Wild Oats (Mark Taper Forum); The Threepenny Opera (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); and The Seagull (Pittsburgh Public Theatre). Off-Broadway credits include How I Learned to Drive (Vineyard Theatre). Broadway credits include work with the Acting Company and Phoenix Theatre. Television credits include Moonlighting, Remington Steele, Eight is Enough, Highway to Heaven, St. Elsewhere, 21 Jump Street, Cagney and Lacey, and LA Law. Mr. Colodner earned his BA from Cornell University and MFA from Southern Methodist University. Originally from New York, he resides in Portsmouth, NH.

Jeremiah Kissel*

Zeblyan

Jeremiah Kissel*

Zeblyan

JEREMIAH KISSEL* returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in Fiddler on the Roof, Broken Glass, The King of Second Avenue, Imagining Madoff, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are DeadTwelfth Night, and Hard Times. Last season in Boston he also appeared in King Lear, Ulysses on Bottles, and Exposed. Screen credits include The Town, The FighterThe Great Debaters, Stronger, and Joy. He is the recipient of two Elliot Norton Awards (1990, 2014), two IRNEs, and the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence (2003).

Creative Team
Seth Rozin, Playwright
Seth Rozin

Playwright

Seth Rozin is the author of numerous plays, including HUMAN RITES, STRUT, A TOOL FOR THE LIVING, THE THREE CHRISTS OF MANHATTAN (produced at InterAct Theatre Company, 2015), TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR… (National New Play Network rolling world premieres at Florida Stage, Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey and New Jersey Rep, plus productions at Shadowlands Theater, Merrimack Rep, Unicorn Theatre, InterAct, Florida Studio Theatre, GEVA Theater, Barter Theater and Jewish Theatre of Grand Rapids; published by Playscripts.com), BLACK GOLD (NNPN rolling world premieres at InterAct, Phoenix Theatre, PROP Thr, Arts West Playhouse), REINVENTING EDEN (InterAct), MISSING LINK (InterAct, Civic Theatre of Schenectady), THE SPACE BETWEEN US (readings at Abington Theatre, Philadelphia Art Alliance) and MEN OF STONE (Theater Catalyst; published by Playscripts.com). He is also the composer, lyricist and book author of A PASSING WIND a musical about history’s greatest “fartiste” that premiered at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ inaugural Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts in 2011. Seth is the winner of two playwriting fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the 2006 Smith Prize (awarded by the National New Play Network), a 2002 Commission from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and two Barrymore Award nominations for Outstanding New Play.

Will LeBow, Director
Will LeBow

Director

WILL LeBOW* returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in The King of Second Avenue. Recent credits include Awake and Sing (Huntington Theatre Company); and Act One (Lincoln Center Theater). As an American Repertory Theatre company actor he appeared in more than 55 productions over 17 seasons including The Merchant of Venice, Full Circle (Elliot Norton Award), Nocturne (Drama Desk Nomination), Endgame, Romance, Copenhagen, and Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Other credits include The Rivals, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Sonia Flew (Huntington Theatre Company); Once in a Lifetime (American Conservatory Theater); and Casey at the Bat, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and world premieres of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Polar Express (Boston Pops). He is a veteran of 15 years with Shear Madness and three seasons with the Boston Shakespeare Company. Film and television credits include Act One (2015 release), Next Stop Wonderland, What Doesn’t Kill You, Second Sight, and six seasons as Stanley on Comedy Central’s Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist.

* member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
◊ member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
º member of United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829

Talkbacks

Sunday 5/6, 2pm
Saturday 5/12, 8pm
Sunday 5/13, 2pm
Thursday 5/17, 2pm
Sunday 5/20, 2pm

Two Jews Walks onto a Stage:
Vaudeville and its legacy

In Two Jews Walk into a War…, playwright Seth Rozin draws inspiration from vaudeville, using the comedic form as a lens to examine meaningful questions of faith and survival. 

Vaudeville was the most popular form of American entertainment from the 1880s to the 1930s. Impresarios such as E.F. Albee (grandfather of playwright Edward Albee) built networks of theaters that spanned almost every American city, totalling nearly 2,000 vaudeville houses by the turn of the twentieth century. With massive reach and affordable prices, vaudeville was the pioneering form of mass entertainment, before radio, film, or television.

A typical vaudeville performance would be made up of nine to twelve short acts, or “turns,” ranging from musical numbers to contortionists, dancers to magicians, and everything in between. In many ways, Rozin’s play echoes a vaudevillian staple: the comedy duo.

Vaudeville has a complicated legacy: while its acts often played upon damaging stereotypes, vaudeville also served as a platform for artists from marginalized communities to gain economic security and nationwide recognition, breaking down cultural, gender, and racial barriers long before other industries would do the same.

One such success story: Weber and Fields were Polish-Jewish immigrants who, both born in 1867 and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, met at age 8 and put together their first act by age 9. Over their long careers, they helped create the formula which later influenced duos such as Smith and Dale, Abbott and Costello, and ultimately, Rozin’s creations of Zeblyan and Ishaq. 

Check out this Weber and Fields routine, preserved on a vinyl record: