Jewish Sisters Sift Through Painful Past in French Drama Oy
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The last date listed for Oy was Sunday August 19, 2012 / 2:00pm.
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August Strindberg's surrealist play is given a haunting and hypnotic interpretation by the Actor's Gang. This study of unforgiving hearts and deep seated guilt has been intriguing audiences for over a century, and this new production takes it to a new level. Two families, imprisoned by greed, duplicity and manipulation, seduce an idealistic student into a web of lies. His unflagging honesty lifts the shroud of lies, and audiences are left to wonder: Was the family living in denial, or were they apparitions of their former selves condemned to eternal regret? Learn More
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The acting is superb! The play is very weak. There is no dialog for the first 25 minutes. A film is shown on the back of the stage to set the context for the play but stage furniture blocks the view of the film for many in the audience.
Through Oy, playwright Hélène Cixous interrogates the question of forgiveness, the work of memories and transmission to new generations, and the state of modern racism throughout the world. Oy is the story of two German Jewish sisters, Selma and Jenny, who in 1995 in their late eighties are some of the last remaining witnesses to the period of Nazism in Europe. They have accepted an invitation from the mayor of Osnabrück, the city of their youth in Germany to testify about their experiences before the younger German generation. Upon returning to Paris from Osnabrück, the elderly sisters try to make something of the swirl of emotions, opinions and memories that have surfaced.
As they cook in the kitchen together, they talk about all the things they were not able to express in Osnabrück. Through their simple, flavorful work together, they begin to unravel the complexities of a society’s internalized racism – the broad anti-Semitism that so darkly colored their past. Based on close family members of the playwright, the interaction between these fictional sisters is honest, emotional, humorous and compelling.
Director George Bigot has a long and rich history with The Actors’ Gang. In 1984, Los Angeles was home to the Olympic Arts Festival, which brought Le Théâtre du Soleil and Mr. Bigot to Los Angeles, where they performed the Shakespeare cycle. This was a watershed event for The Gang. Several Gang members including Artistic Director, Tim Robbins, took acting workshops with Mr. Bigot, based on the style of Theatre du Soleil and the spirit of working in ensemble. Mr. Robbins has said of this moment, “Working with Georges was a seminal moment for The Actors’ Gang. He introduced a form and a discipline that respected the traditions of theatre and brought great passion to our commitment as an ensemble to produce theater that is vital and relevant.”
In 2001 The Gang reached out to its mentor and invited him to Los Angeles to run workshops to retrain the ensemble and to direct The Seagull by Anton Chekhov. Mr. Bigot returns this year with the intent of introducing the work of Hélène Cixous to U.S. audiences. His work is supported by the New York and Los Angeles French Consulates as well as the French-American Fund for Contemporary Theater and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
About the Ticket Supplier: Actors' Gang
The Actors’ Gang is one of Los Angeles’ most enduring theatre ensembles. Founded in 1981 by a group of renegade theatre artists, the Gang’s mission is to create bold, original works for the stage and daring reinterpretations of the classics. Our work is raw, immediate, socially minded, and crafted with the highest artistic standards.
Over the course of our first 20 years we have produced 68 plays and won over 100 awards, winning acclaim for our interpretations of Shakespeare, Bruchner, Brecht, Moliere, Aeschylus, Ibsen and Chekhov, while developing in workshop new plays that address the world today through a prism of satire, popular culture and raucous stagecraft.
Through co-productions, The Actors’ Gang presented the West Coast Premiere of Eric Bogosian’s “Suburbia” with the Namaste Theatre Company, Roger Guenver Smith’s “A Huey P. Newton Story,” Danny Hoch’s “Jails, Hospitals, Hip Hop” with Center Theatre Group, and “Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella” with The Cornerstone Theatre Company. The Actors’ Gang has toured with productions as the US representative at the Edinburgh Festival and to New York’s Public Theatre with “Carnage, A Comedy”; with “The Imaginary Invalid” to the Rushmore Festival in New York, and in 2001 saw “Bat Boy, A Musical,” developed at the Actors’ Gang, won the Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics award for best new musical Off-Broadway in New York.