Performative Reading and Curator Exhibition Tour, November 30

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Join us Thursday, November 30, for a special evening in conjunction with Russian Revolution: A Contested Legacy. Following a 6pm walkthrough of the exhibition led by curator Masha Chlenova, three actors will perform a reading of exhibiting artist Yevgeniy Fiks's project, Lily Golden, Harry Haywood, Langston Hughes, Yelena Khanga, Claude McKay, Paul Robeson, Robert Robinson on Soviet Jews at 7pm.

The reading traces the history of the Jewish community in the Soviet Union between 1920s and 1980s via memoirs of African-Americans who resided or visited the USSR, and Soviet citizens of African-American descent. These individuals, though they supported the Soviet experiment's radical promises of a new social order, had reservations about Communism's capacity to resolve the issue of racial inequality; the Jews they encountered in the USSR, whom they identified with and felt solidarity towards as a large and oppressed ethnic minority of the former Tsarist Russia, served as an example of the workings of the new system with regards to the issue of race and creed.

This diverse group of historical observers present a variety of accounts of the situation of the Soviet Jews. Some writers have positive views of Soviet achievements in the area of equality, and believe that it could provide a model for African-American integration back home, while others describe the continuing presence of anti-Semitism in Soviet society, notwithstanding the official Communist ideology of internationalism and non-discrimination.

About the actors:  

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Anthony Russell Ten years after making his professional operatic debut, Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell is now a vocalist, composer and arranger specializing in Yiddish song, chazones and Chasidic nigunim. Anthony's work in Jewish music has brought him to stages in Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, New York and Tel Aviv, JCCs in Manhattan and San Francisco, Symphony Space in New York City, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and Limmud Fests across the United States and Europe. Upcoming engagements include engagements in Berlin, Krakow and London. His new album, Convergence, combining a century of African-American and Ashkenazi Jewish music, is set to be released next year.

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Yelena Shmulenson is perhaps best known as the icepick-wielding wife in the Coen brothers’ Oscar-nominated film A Serious Man. Other film & TV: Orange is the New Black, Boardwalk Empire, Robert De Niro’s The Good ShepherdRomeo and Juliet in Yiddish, and more. Stage: five seasons Off-Broadway with the Folksbiene, two at the Ellis Island Theatre, The Golem of Havana (Miami New Drama), COVERS (New York/St.Petersburg/Moscow/Montreal), Knock and Old New Year with Lost&Found, The Essence: A Yiddish Theater Dim Sum (New York/ Stockholm/Toronto/Bucharest, etc.)  She has also been a Yiddish coach/translator for numerous projects, and is working on a one-woman show that’s half autobiographical and half about American Jewish housewife (and executed spy) Ethel Rosenberg.

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Boris Zilberman is an actor, writer, and comedian from New York City. He is a founding member of Lost & Found Theater Project (lnfproject.com) with which he has written and performed in projects such as Covers (2013) Knock (2015), Old New Year (2017) and the podcast Shayna (2016). TV Credits include Perfect Murder (Investigation Discovery), and Monumental Mysteries (Travel Channel). As a comedian, he appeared in the finals of the the national Laughing Skull Comedy Festival (2013), and has studied and performed improv (UCB, PIT, Magnet) since 2008. He is currently the head writer and content creator for children's app MyBuddy.ai