Yiddish Play Contest Jury Includes Jason Robert Brown, Emanuel Azenberg, Joe DiPietro and More
By Kenneth Jones
The Drama Desk Award-winning National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene is sponsoring a new play contest, seeking works "in Yiddish, or based on Yiddish sources, to add to the great legacy of the Yiddish theatre."
The contest is meant to encourage writers and directors to conceive and develop new works. The contest's jury includes the Tony Award-winning producer Emanuel Azenberg, Tony-winning composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown, Tony-winning songwriter and librettist Joe DiPietro, Public Theater associate artistic director Mandy Hackett and playwrights Israel Horovitz, Jeff Baron and Jon Marans (Pulitzer finalist for Old Wicked Songs).
The contest's winning play or musical will be showcased during the First New York International Festival of Jewish Performing Arts, which the New York City-based Folksbiene will launch in June 2015 to commemorate its first 100 years.
The competition, called the David and Clare Rosen Memorial Contest, "will provide opportunities and encouragement not just for writers fluent in Yiddish, but also for non-fluent writers who see unique opportunities to continue to mine the culture for contemporary audiences."
In announcing the contest, Folksbiene's executive director Bryna Wasserman said, "The purpose of the contest is to let Yiddish serve as a spark for creativity, to help find new, creative ways to explore the Jewish experience. Yiddish, despite its diminished role as a language of daily life, remains a cornerstone of Jewish identity."
Submissions are now being accepted through Sept. 1, 2013.
A short list of contestants' projects under consideration will be announced on Jan. 15, 2014. These will be presented later in the spring as staged readings, which will be evaluated by Folksbiene's jury. The winning project will be developed by Folksbiene for a premiere in June 2015.
New full-length plays or musicals, as well as mixed media projects incorporating performance and music are eligible.
Projects can be entirely or partially in Yiddish. "Projects mostly in English will need to creatively incorporate Yiddish in different ways," according to Folksbiene.
The contest's chairwoman is Judith Rosen, who is establishing the contest in the name of her late in-laws, David and Clare Rosen, both of whom cared deeply about the perpetuation of Yiddish culture.
Rosen said, "This contest underlines a bold proposition, one that we believe in deeply… that we can still add to the great legacy of the Yiddish theatre."
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