TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR…

by Seth Rozin
directed by Will LeBow
music consultation by Hankus Netsky, Klezmer Conservatory Band
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.

 

Run time: 90 minutes, no intermission

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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.

Alex Schneps*, Assistant Director
Alex Schneps*

Assistant Director

ALEX SCHNEPS* makes his New Repertory Theatre debut. Other area credits include Prelude to a Kiss (Huntington Theatre Company). Other recent credits include Romeo & Juliet (Hartford Stage); The Winter’s Tale (Shakespeare’s Globe Education); The Hen Night (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland); and Mornings of April and May (Connecticut Free Shakespeare). Mr. Schneps is currently working towards his MFA in Theatre Education at Boston University where he also received his BS in Film and Television. He received an MA in Classical and Contemporary Text from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Jon Savageº, Scenic Designer
Jon Savageº

Scenic Designer

JON SAVAGE has designed The Gift HorseBroken Glass, The King of Second Avenue, Closer Than Ever, Imagining Madoff, The Elephant Man, and Holiday Memories at New Repertory Theatre. Other area credits include Out of Sterno (Gloucester Stage); A Disappearing Number (Underground Railway Theatre); M and Laughing Wild (Huntington Theatre Company); You for Me for You (Company One); The Farm and Deported/a dream play (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); and All’s Well That Ends Well (Elliot Norton Award, Best Production) and The Comedy of Errors (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company). Regional credits include A Grand Night for Singing (Bucks County Playhouse); State Fair (Walnut Street Theatre); Is He Dead? (Olney Theatre); and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Bay Street Theatre). Jon was the Associate Set Designer for the Broadway production of Hot Feet and has worked in television and film for productions on the History Channel and the HBO miniseries, John Adams. He also served as a curator for the US National Student Exhibit at the Prague Quadrennial in 2007. He is currently on faculty at Boston University and is a member of United Scenic Artists. Originally from Wyoming, he resides in Weymouth.

Karen Perlowº, Lighting Designer
Karen Perlowº

Lighting Designer

Bio coming soon!

Lee Schuna, Sound Designer
Lee Schuna

Sound Designer

LEE SCHUNA  returns to New Repertory Theatre after designing Two Jews Walk Into a War, Lonely Planet, Statements After an Arrest, Fiddler on the Roof, and serving as Sound Engineer on multiple productions and events. Lee is a transmasculine freelance sound designer, composer, music producer, and graduate of the Music Industry program at Northeastern University. Credits include Hype Man, Peerless, Really, and The T Party (Company One); Every Brilliant Thing, Grand Concourse, and Significant Other (SpeakEasy Stage Company); Fires in the Mirror and The King Stag (Tufts University); and The Women Who Mapped The Stars (The Nora Theatre Company). He is currently working on experimental electronic music to be released on his pet record label at Human Nature Records. He resides in Roxbury. humannaturerecords.com

Nancy Learyº, Costume Designer
Nancy Learyº

Costume Designer

Bio coming soon!

Ryan Bates, Props Master
Ryan Bates

Props Master

RYAN BATES (Scenic Designer) has designed Ideation, Brecht on Brecht, Thurgood, The Testament of Mary, Via Dolorosa, and The Snow Queen at New Rep. Other recent scenic design credits include Los Meadows (Boston Public Works); Dear Elizabeth and Melancholy Play (The Umbrella); Blasted (Off the Grid Theatre Company); The Last Five Years (Arts After Hours); The Launch Prize (Bridge Repertory Theatre); That Time the House Burned Down (Fresh Ink); Academy Fight Song (Centastage); A Visit with Marie Curie (Parity Productions); Angels in America (Boston University Opera Institute); and 4000 Miles and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (Gloucester Stage Company). Ryan received his MFA in Scenic Design from Boston University and a BA in Theatre and Art History from Middlebury College. Originally from Danvers, he currently resides in Brighton. Upcoming projects include Or (Maiden Phoenix and Simple Machine) at Chelsea Theatre Works.

Becca Freifeld*, Stage Manager
Becca Freifeld*

Stage Manager

BECCA FREIFELD*  returns to New Repertory Theatre after serving as Performance Stage Manager on Thurgood, Assistant Stage Manager on Fiddler on the Roof and Good, and Production Assistant on Freud’s Last Session, The Testament of Mary, The Snow Queen, A Number, Broken Glass, Scenes From an Adultery, The King of Second Avenue, and Closer Than Ever. Other area stage management credits include Barbecue (Lyric Stage Company); Shoes On, Shoes Off (Brandeis Department of Theater Arts); Romeo & Juliet and Evil Dead: the Musical (Arts After Hours); Hamlet (Wax Wings Productions); Bully Dance (Argos Productions); and Hamlet (Bay Colony Shakespeare Company). Upcoming: Assistant Stage Manager on New Repertory Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha. Ms. Freifeld is a graduate of Brandeis University, and currently resides in Newtonville.

* 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

Reviews

“The play’s comedy never abates…[Kissel and Colodner] masterfully handle the dramatic passages so that comedy and tragedy harmonize.”

- Edge Media Network

Read More

“Consistently compelling… a sublime duo…both actors once more prove adept at the balancing act of collaboration, demonstrating spot-on timing in their scenes together.”

- The Boston Globe

Read More

News

Read the TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR… Program online!

Press Release: TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR…

Talkbacks

Sunday 4/29, 4pm (featuring playwright Seth Rozin)
Sunday 5/6, 2pm
Saturday 5/12, 8pm
Sunday 5/13, 2pm
Thursday 5/17, 2pm
Sunday 5/20, 2pm


SPOTLIGHT SYMPOSIUM: Commonalities of Afghan, Jewish, and Persian music: Performance and Conversation
Saturday, May 19 following 2pm show

MainStage Theater | Mosesian Center for the Arts

Email symposium@newrep.org to reserve your complimentary spot!

PANELISTS/MUSICIANS:
Neema Jan (Oud)
Grant Smith (Percussion)

 Neema Jan (Musician, Oud) is an Iranian multi-instrumentalist and composer. As a performer, he has been playing Persian
Classical Music for more than 25 years. He has played in numerous recordings and concerts. He has performed in venues such as Boston’s historical Jordan Hall, MIT, Harvard University, Tuft University, Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, and many more. As a performer, Neema mostly performs solo recitals with Setar (his main instrument), and frequently with Oud, and Kamanche. Recently, he has published a solo Setar album “The Kiss Belongs to Nobody” with a-side records. Neema holds a Bachelor degree in Performance of Persian Classical Music from Tehran school of Music, Master’s Degree, and a Graduate Diploma in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory, Boston. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Composition with Minor in Music Theory at New England Conservatory, Boston.

Grant Smith (Musician, Percussion) returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing percussion in The King of Second Avenue. He is involved in many world music, jazz, classical, and dance projects in Boston and New York. Other theatre credits include The King Stag, Shlemiel The First (American Repertory Theater) and Borscht Capades. Mr. Smith has toured globally from Krakow to Thailand and New Zealand. He has performed 2017-2018 season 11 with Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Don Byron, the Violent Femmes, Jane Wang and the Green Bay Packers. A member of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and Klezperanto, Grant has performed on many stages from Radio City, Wolf Trap, and Tanglewood, to the Hollywood Bowl, MU in Budapest, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

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: