'Doroga' helps connect actors, audiences with past

Troupe to give only Boston-area performance Saturday in the Shapiro Theater

Photo/Anya Roz

From left to right: Ruvym Gilman, Mariya King, Boris Zilberman, Russell Verkhovsky explore the relationships between past and present in "Doroga."

Whether we know our family’s history or not, it becomes a part of us.

The Lost & Found Project aims to reconnect Russian Jews with their history, so they can better understand themselves. By proxy, they help audiences do the same.

“We have to carry on whatever we’re being passed,” says Anna Zicer of the Lost & Found Project. “We end up carrying all these stories.”

Using theater as its primary tool, the project has collected a group of 10 Jewish actors born in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and ‘80s who are on a search for their own families’ history. The goal is to discover those stories and help audiences reflect on how the past affects the present through an experimental, interactive theater project.

The result is a play called, “Doroga,” the Russian word for “journey,” which uses vignettes to depict immigration experiences during the Soviet rule and after its collapse. Written collaboratively by the cast, produced by Zicer and directed by Ben Sargent, it features stories of love, friendship, family, relationships, discoveries, journeys and dreams. It premiered to a sold-out crowd in New York City in March.

“Even if you are not a Russian Jew, or even if you yourself didn’t immigrate here, North America is such a melting pot of immigration,” Zicer says. “You might think, ‘Oh, now I understand where my grandmother came from’ or ‘that’s where that trait came from.’ It helps you understand yourself better.”

The only Boston-area performance of the play will be at Brandeis, on Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Carl J. Shapiro Theater in the Shapiro Campus Center. A Q & A will follow with Bryna Wasserman, the play’s artistic director and executive director of the National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene.

“When you’re a leader, you can’t move people forward without knowing where they came from,” says Victor Vitkin, executive director of the Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry, which is bringing “Doroga” to campus as one of a series of cultural events and performances this semester.

Vitkin says the show is not exclusively for a Russian or Jewish audience, and Zicer stresses that it can be especially meaningful for students.

“For the elders it’s very special, but they already went through this experience,” Zicer says. “For students, it can really help them figure out who they are and how they got here.”

Tickets can be purchased for $18 ($5 for students) online at Brandeis Tickets or by calling (781) 736-3400.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences, International Affairs

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