IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE MOTHER
Eight years ago, my mother, Sara, a strong-willed, very funny, and deeply romantic Russian-Jewish woman with a colorful and mysterious past, left this earth at age 92. I loved the stories she told me, particularly about the great (and very secret) romance of her life and I wanted to find a way to bring her story to life. I tried to write it as a play, a novel, a screenplay, but it wasn’t working (I have the box of drafts to prove it – it weighs a lot). I relocated (from Los Angeles) to New York City in 2009 and started making new theater work – mostly solo work – and went to get my MFA in Dance at Sarah Lawrence College. Meanwhile, I received a fellowship to LABA: a Laboratory for Jewish Culture at the 14th Street Y – a place where artists study ancient texts together focused around an annual subject/theme – the theme for my group was “Mother” – those great, larger than life, mythical mothers of the Torah. With LABA/14th Street Y as my home base, and also developing the work at Sarah Lawrence as part of my thesis, I was able to bring fellow artists in to work with me and started crafting this work about my own mythical mother into what has become THE MAR VISTA.
IT’S happening now!
We are bursting with excitement because on December 1, 2016, THE MAR VISTA, will begin a three week run (12 performances) at the Theater at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan (located on the legendary Lower East Side). This will be the completed production of THE MAR VISTA and is the culmination of over four years of intensive creative work by Mystical Feet: performers Amanda Schussel, Ron Kagan, Dwight Kelly Richardson, and Ryan Pater; Sound Designer and Composer, Ezra Lowrey; Costume Designer, Amy Page; Lighting and Set Designer, Kryssy Wright and me.
From the start, THE MAR VISTA was conceived as a 5-part evening of interconnected stories about my parents – Sara and Charlie. It is a comical, lyrical and sometimes tragical tale of enduring love, mismatched romance and the dance of life. We’ve built each individual section, working piece by piece, rather like the way my father Charlie, a Polish tailor, built and assembled the bespoke gentleman’s suits he took great pride in making. THE MAR VISTA has been nurtured and developed by LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture and The 14th Street Y, allowing us to take the time it has taken to craft this Jewish family memoir that travels in time and space, over ninety years and three continents. Along the way, other wonderful organizations have become involved and partnered with us to offer further opportunities to continue the work’s development: Jewish Plays Project, Museum of Jewish Heritage, and National Jewish Theatre Folksbiene.
In THE MAR VISTA, a cast of six (Ron Kagan, Dwight Richardson Kelly, Amanda Schussel, Ryan Pater, Ezra Lowrey and Yehuda Hyman) seamlessly weave music, dance and story together to present a tale of forbidden wartime romance, a 1960s Jewish Family of immigrants in Los Angeles, gypsy dances, pop tunes, rumbas and romance.
The cinematic-like action dances backwards and forwards in time and location from Revolutionary Russia to a smoky bar in Newport, Kentucky, 1952, to a village in Poland on the eve of WWII, to a present day magical island off the coast of Istanbul.
is the Artistic Director of Mystical Feet Company. His plays include The Mad Dancers, David in Shadow and Light (co-written with Daniel Hoffman), Center of the Star, Swan Lake Calhoun, I Ask You, Ladies and Gentlemen (adapted from the memoir by Leon Surmelian), and solo plays, The Mad 7 and Max, Rapunzel and the Night. His work has been produced at the McCarter Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum, San Diego Repertory Theater, Theatre J, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Piven Theatre Workshop, Highways Performance Space, and The Marsh among others. Honors include the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, the National Endowment of the Arts /TCG Playwright-in-Residence grant to work with Cornerstone Theater of Los Angeles, a Jerome Fellowship at the Playwrights’ Center of Minneapolis, Heideman Award from Actors’ Theater of Louisville and grants from the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity and Foundation for Jewish Culture. His poetry and prose have been published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Northern California Jewish Bulletin, Minnesota Monthly, Revue Alsacienne de Litterature, Recours au Poème and Seeing Jewish and Israeli Dance, published by Wayne State University Press. He has translated the work of German poet, Eva-Maria Berg. Mr. Hyman recently acted in New York City with Target Margin Theater, The Civilians and in Bring a Weasel and a Pint of Your Own Blood at Jack Performance Space. He was an Artist Fellow at the LABA House of Study at the 14th St. Y (2013/2014). He received his M.F.A in Dance from Sarah Lawrence College and has been a guest teacher there as well as at Princeton University, University of Southern California, Barnard College, New York University, Goucher College, Whittier College, University of Indiana and the Rhodopi Institute in Smolyan, Bulgaria. He is currently a teaching artist with Dancing Classrooms, teaching ballroom dancing to 5th Grade NYC Public school children.