Emily Zacharias Brings a Family Letter THROUGH THE DARKNESS

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Emily Zacharias as “Helen

MEET EMILY ZACHARIAS:

WorkShop Theater is lucky to reap the benefits of the many exceptional talents of Emily who is a literary associate, founding member and is now serving on the Board. This terrific actress will portray “Helen” in the upcoming Main Stage production this March of THROUGH THE DARKNESS.

Highlights of Emily’s acting career include:

Favorite Broadway: JEKYLL & HYDE

Favorite Off-Broadway: OLYMPUS ON MY MIND

Favorite Natl tour: COMPANY

Favorite Regional: THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO

Favorite Off-Off: FULL FRONTAL at The Workshop

 

We spoke to Emily to ask what attracted her to THROUGH THE DARKNESS, the role of “Helen” and what it’s like working on the production. She says: 

My husband and I always laugh at that question posed to actors… I’m  attracted to roles I’m offered!  But really, this script carries a special responsibility…

Helen Dychterman Draznin witnessed the worst that can happen to a person and still live to tell the tale.  In “Through the Darkness” she struggles with the absurd unyielding truth of that, but arrives at a certain philosophic wisdom, while being mightily aware of the irreparable damage to her psyche.  She’s complex.  She opens up to the audience about the confusion of questions left inside her.  It’s a privilege to breathe this air.  

There was a letter in my family that I knew about… but, it had been quite a while since I saw it.  It’s dated June 23, 1946 and it begins, “My dear Beloved Aunt and Uncle and your children may you always be happy”…

Ita Berman Glick recounts the brutal stories that took so many of my paternal grandfather’s family.  It’s the story of burnings and slaughters, of the Oshmana Ghetto, the Wilna Ghetto, the Kovne Ghetto.  It’s the story of people living underground without air or water, choking their own to death for fear of cries that would alert Germans, and people who lost their minds while hiding.  

Early on, Ita says, “My dear ones, you are asking me to write to you about our dear ones and beloved ones and the never forgotten ones.  You want to know what happened to them.  It is rather very hard for me to describe to you all that happened.  I cannot even believe that all our dear ones are gone from us- the very ones I lived with, hoped with, and dreamed about the future together.  They were my entire hope for a better future, but today I am left lonely, all alone from among all of them.  It seems it was destined that I love through all of this and attest with my own eyes to all that happened.”

How much more personally relevant can a part be?  I suppose I have the opportunity to speak for this second cousin, to give her experience voice again, and show respect through Alan’s elegantly researched play.

As to our post-election world… our troubled, but welcoming, country of difference which progressive Americans have proudly modeled is now being mocked and uprooted and we hardly recognize the dogma that is being spoken in our names.  This is such a shameful moment we have to endure.  Being a part of a play that bears witness to the WWII genocide feels strangely … right.  Retelling this story isn’t any kind of corrective or solace, but there is a frightening kind of balance in reaching back to a 20th century nightmare as we daily contemplate a terrifying loss of American leadership, balance and civility. 

Actress Tracy Newirth Keeps An Open Heart THROUGH THE DARKNESS

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Actress Tracy Newirth

With a unique voice that charms, and a smile that lights up a room, we asked the delightful Tracy Newirth, WorkShop company artist known for her terrific work in  Skin Deep (Jon Lonoff), The Guest at Central Park West (Levy Lee Simon), Right Sensation (Rich Orloff) and The Power and the Glory (Le Wilhelm) to talk about her new role as “Clara” in the upcoming Main Stage production of Through the Darkness (Alan C. Briendel) and directed by Leslie Kincaid Burby opening Thursday, March 9th.

Tracy says, “As an actor in the company as well as a member of the Board, I get to perform AND ask people for money – in this way both sides of my brain get exercised! And now let’s hear what she has to say about Through the Darkness:

What was it that attracted you to the role of Clara?

I read a bit of Clara at a Monday night writers’ meeting almost a year ago, totally by chance, and I could not get the piece out of my head.  I contacted Alan (the playwright) and told him so, in fact.  I went on to participate in the Sunday@6 reading of the piece last June, playing the other woman’s role (Helen), actually.  They are both phenomenal roles, the writing is beautiful, but I confess a soft spot for Clara.  Something about how she managed to remain open-hearted and grateful for kindness after having every reason to be the opposite really resonates with me.

How do you feel Through the Darkness is relevant today?

It might be shorter to talk about how it’s NOT relevant today, unfortunately.  Even a year ago when I first read the piece, it felt evocative and powerful and  beautifully written, but not necessarily topical.  The second time I read it, during the election, it felt like a damn cautionary tale.  Now… it feels downright prescient, I’m sorry to say.  But in many ways, it makes me even more honored to be a part of it (and to hope, pray and fight like hell to make sure nothing like this ever happens again).  The original title of the piece was Anywhere But Here… indeed, eh?

Is there a history of immigration in your family that is influential?

My mom’s side of the family is the Italian side, but my father’s side of the family were Romanian Jews.  My grandparents, however (which is about as far back as I can remember on that side), were born in the US, long before the war.  I need to have a good chat with my aunties to get more details, though…

What is the biggest challenge of doing this play?

Well, there are several!  But without getting too much into the weeds, I will say this:  I think we’re all feeling a certain weighty sense of responsibility being entrusted with telling these incredible stories lived by these incredible human beings (some of whom are still alive, by the way).  I mean, how could you not, right?  So, ok, we can acknowledge that, but we really also have to throw all that “importance” (or “reverence” or “earnestness”) out the window in a way and just find out how to truthfully tell these stories asthese people, not about them.  I’m not Tracy telling you how I feel about Clara’s story, I need to just be Clara telling you my story.  And give the audiences room to figure out their own feelings about it!

What would you like audiences to take away from the show?

I’d like them to feel they’ve seen some powerful theater.  I’d like them to feel recommitted to speaking out against hatred and injustice of any kind wherever they may see it or even suspect it.  And I’d also ultimately like them to feel hopeful for the future.

And then I would like them to make a donation to the Workshop Theater! 🙂

PATSY – Sunday Feb 12 at 6 PM

PATSY
by Margo Hammond
Directed by Alex Dmitriev

A Sundays@Six Series Reading in The Jewel Box Theater
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Walter’s promise to his wife becomes a conflict within the city of Tinder Hill. One side is for and the other against. He attempts many screwball maneuvers but can Walter keep his pledge to Patsy? Will love prevail?

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

No Reserved Seating! Seating is on a first come, first served basis. Please arrive early to ensure seating.

WorkShop Theater Folks Take it OffEvening of Shorts X: Boxers & Briefs”

Come see “Eclectic Evening of Shorts X: Boxers & Briefs”

WorkShop’s prolific Glenn Altermann’s play DITMAS has been selected to be part of this terrific festival. It will be performed by our own wonderful talents, Lucy Mc Michael and Michael Gnat, and directed by the innovative Katrin Hilbe. It’s  great evening of great pieces.

WHEN :February 3-12, 2017

WHERE: Theatre 54, 244 West 54th Street-12th Floor

ASHES & A DREAM

Linda Segal Crawley takes center stage with her cast after the reading of her beautiful piece, ASHES & DREAM, as they prepare for the talk-back moderated with panache by Susan Izatt.  Was a great night and big appreciation for all who attended!

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Seated (l to r): Jackie Jenkins, DeeDee Friedman, Linda Segal Crawley, Laurie Graff. Standing (l to r) Frank Hankey, Ben Alexander, Richard Kent Green, Jeff Paul

Linda Segal Crawley’s Sunday@Six, 1-29

WorkShop Theater’s delightful and talented playwright, Linda Segal Crawley, is proud to present her wonderful ASHES & A DREAM this Sunday, January 29. A play of big ideas set on the Upper West Side, the comedic-drama illustrates that when the going gets tough, getting behind your passion for a better world might just lead the way to go forward.

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A short talkback will follow!

DATE: Sunday, January 29

TIME: 6 PM Sharp

PLACE: Jewel Box Theater

FREE