The Listeners and the Talkers was an interview-based play exploring personal narratives and family and community histories of elder Jewish women living in Borough Park, Brooklyn, NY, many of whom are Holocaust survivors or partners of survivors. Nearly all the women were practicing Hasidic Jews of the Bobov sect. The experience challenged everything I thought I knew about Judaism, about elder women, and about theater.
Together, we explored the making and meaning of joy. We spoke about Jewish family values and the loss of language and culture. We shared stories about coming of age, love, and kinship.
Co-Directed by C. Meranda Flachs-Surmanek and Vaimoana Niumeitolu, and Co-Written by C. Meranda Flachs-Surmanek, Vaimoana Niumeitolu, and a group of women at the Boro Park Y.
This project was part of the SU-CASA 2019 Artist Residency program. SU-CASA is a collaboration among the New York City Council, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Department for the Aging. The Town Hall, a theatre in midtown created by suffragists in 1921, was the partnering organization.