“Nathan” in the Kulturbund first production, Nathan the Wise. 1933  (photo credit: Abraham Pisarek).

In collaboration with multimedia playwright and projection designer Jared Mezzocchi, The Jüdische Kulturbund Project will create a magical experience on stage, currently titled “The Ring Project”.  Inspired by the Kulturbund’s first production,  the play Nathan the Wise and its Ring Parable, the play will weave together rare video, still images, music, and live performance, linking a unique story of the past to the present.

We want the audience to imagine and empathize with our subjects.  What is like for an artist who chooses to stay in their oppressed homeland or escape to freedom?  The play will rely on several resources: scholarly research and the expertise of an international team of academic advisors; first-hand accounts of Kulturbund members and international current-day artists; presentations of today’s artists work; and archival material from the Kulturbund’s past.

Exploring the connection between the Kulturbund and contemporary artists’ issues of living under oppression and responding through art, we collaborated with DC playwright Gwydion Suilebhan and cellist Devree Lewis who participated in our project’s theatre workshop in  June 2013.

What is a stunning realization is that one third of all Kulturbund participants were sent to the camps and died. The life and death questions they faced then are as relevant to artists living under tyrannical regimes today as they were in Germany under Hitler in the ‘30s. What about today’s artists living under oppression?  Do they stay or do they leave?  What do they risk by remaining in or fleeing from their homeland.  These questions are among those we explored in our devised theatre workshop in 2013 that we integrate in our play’s  imaginative and powerful story.

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