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Winnipeg Jewish Theatre (WJT), Canada’s longest running Jewish theatre company, is thrilled to announce its 30th anniversary season, which features a diverse, dynamic, accessible playbill. The 30th anniversary season programming is a testament to WJT’s artistic mission to present plays on themes of Jewish interest and/or plays by Jewish playwrights; to reach across communities through presentation of universal and socially relevant plays and engage our audience in dialogue; to provide a vehicle for neophyte actors, playwrights, directors, and technicians to participate in professional theatre; and to encourage the development and presentation of new Canadian plays of Jewish interest and/or by Jewish playwrights.

“The thirtieth anniversary season is inspired by a core value the company was founded upon: community,” says Ari Weinberg, WJT’s Artistic Director. “The productions are all about celebrating our commonalities and embracing our differences through works that explore how and why we band together.” The ambitious 2017 – 2018 season is sponsored by the Asper Foundation.


The 30th anniversary season will open with Tribes by UK playwright Nina Raine, running October 19 – 29, 2017. The production will be directed by WJT Artistic Director Ari Weinberg and feature local actors Stephanie Sy and Arne MacPherson. Tribes tells the story of Billy, the only Deaf member of a loving, idiosyncratic Jewish family that has tried to raise him as part of the hearing world. When Billy meets Sylvia, a young woman who is going Deaf but has grown up as the only hearing member of her family, Billy’s worldview is blown wide open. As Sylvia begins teaching Billy sign language and introducing him to the Deaf community, he and his family are forced to grapple with questions of belonging. Tribes will mark the professional debut of local Deaf actor Jordan Sangalang in the role of Billy, and will launch WJT’s American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted subscription season, the only one of its kind in Winnipeg. Tribes will have two ASL interpreted performances on October 21 and 26, 2017. The production sponsor for Tribes is Debbie Gray.

The season continues with WJT’s bi-annual So, Nu? Festival of New Canadian Jewish Plays. The cornerstone of the festival will be We Keep Coming Back, co-created by former Winnipegger Michael Rubenfeld and National Arts Centre’s Associate Artistic Director of English Theatre Sarah Garton Stanley. Running March 6 – 11, 2018 with an ASL interpreted performance on March 8, We Keep Coming Back is the story of a mother and son, both descendants of Polish Holocaust survivors, who decide to return to Poland in the hopes of finding their lost identity and reconnecting with each other. However their quest takes an unexpected turn when they discover a vibrant contemporary world of Jewish life in Poland. Michael Rubenfeld’s real-life mother Mary Berchard also performs in the piece alongside Katka Reszke, author of Return of the Jew. The So, Nu? Festival will also feature readings of three new Canadian Jewish plays from March 13 – 15. The festival sponsor is the Gail Asper Family Foundation.

On March 18, WJT will celebrate its milestone birthday with Turning 30: A Retrospective Cabaret. Featuring songs and scenes from past productions, the cabaret is sure to be a delightful evening featuring some of Winnipeg’s finest talent. Turning 30 will also mark the launch of the Jewish Heritage Museum of Western Canada’s partner exhibit on Jewish theatre in Winnipeg, featuring material from WJT’s extensive archive.

The season proper will close with the William Finn and James Lapine musical Falsettos, presented in partnership with Winnipeg’s Dry Cold Productions. Directed by Mariam Bernstein, Falsettos will run May 2 – 13 2017, with an ASL interpreted performance on May 10.  Falsettos is a Tony® Award winning musical that chronicles two years in the life of Marvin, his ex-wife Trina, lover Whizzer, about-to-be-Bar-Mitzvahed son Jason, their psychiatrist Mendel, and the lesbians next door. Set in New York City between 1979 and 1981, Marvin is forced to reckon with his own views on love, responsibility, and what it means to be a man on the eve of the AIDS crisis. Part intimate family drama, part neurotic urban comedy, and part keenly observed meditation on a shifting definition of the contemporary family, Falsettos is a beautiful reminder that love can tell a million stories.

Subscriptions will go on sale May 4, 2017 with single tickets on sale in September. Subscription package costs will range from $70 – $100.

We hope you had a restful and relaxing holiday season!

We are extremely excited to be starting our year with a partnership with the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. Together we will be presenting noteworthy poet and playwright Endre Farkas. Endre will be reading excerpts from his newest novel Never, Again, and we will be presenting selected scenes from his play, Surviving Wor(l)ds. 

Set in post-war Communist Hungary, in the fictional town of Békes, Never, Again is the story of seven-year-old Tomi Wolfstein, the son of Holocaust survivors who have never told him anything about their past experiences in the concentration camps. The story opens in the fall of 1956, when Tomi is about to start school, and chronicles his adventures and experiences in the months leading up to and during the Hungarian uprising. Surviving Wor(l)ds is Endre’s own journey, about the terrors of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of his parents and himself.

This is a free event that will take place in the Berney Theatre at 7:30 PM  on January 26 for International Holocaust Day of Remembrance. Seating is rush. We would like to acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for helping make this event possible.

Up next, we will be presenting How to Disappear Completely. Written and performed by Israeli Canadian playwright and lighting designer Itai Erdal, How to Disappear Completely is an award winning play that has toured across Canada. We are so excited to be bringing this “gently profound… thoroughly engaging” multimedia tour-de-force to the Prairies.

What is it about? In September of 2000, Itai received a phone call telling him his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and had nine months to live. Despite being a recent film-school graduate, he promptly moved back to Israel to spend every moment he could with his dying mother. During that time he shot hours of film and hundreds of pictures, documenting the final months of her life. In a starkly simple yet deeply profound new work, Erdal invites us to witness the story about the circumstances surrounding his mother’s passing. How to Disappear Completely runs from March 23 – April 1 2017 at the Berney Theatre.

Keep an eye and ear out in late March as well – we will be announcing our very exciting 30th Anniversary season!

For one night only on April 20, we will be presenting a reading of the smash New York City hit Love, Loss, and What I Wore, by Nora and Delia Ephron. This reading is directed by Donna Fletcher, and is a fundraising event. All tickets are $75.00, and attendees will receive a partial tax receipt.  Featuring an all-star cast of local women about town (to be announced soon!) Love, Loss and What I Wore uses clothing and accessories – and the memories they trigger – to tell funny and poignant stories about being a woman.

Also in April, as part of Holocaust Remembrance Week, we will present a reading of Therefore Choose Life by Kathy Kacer and Jake Epstein. Inspired by true events, Therefore Choose Life tells the tale of a Holocaust survivor who has remarried and started a new life in Canada. When a letter from the past arrives unexpectedly, he is faced with a heartbreaking dilemma about leaving his wife of thirty years or returning to his first and true love. We are honoured to be sharing this new play with Winnipeggers after it’s successful world premiere at the Harold Green Jewish Theatre in Toronto in 2015.

We bid farewell to our 29th season in May with a production of Matthew Lopez’s powerful drama The Whipping Man, starring local actor Ray Strachan. Set in Richmond, Virginia in 1865 at the start of Passover and the end of the US Civil War, we witness a young Jewish Confederate officer named Caleb, who has just returned to his family’s estate to find it in ruins. What unfolds is a haunting and quietly powerful story about race, power, religion, and responsibility. The Whipping Man will run from May 4 – 14, 2017 at the Berney Theatre.

The reviews are in, and Buyer & Cellar is a hit!

“Whether or not you’re a Streisand fan, Buyer & Cellar is easy to buy into.” – Joff Schmidt, CBC

“Buyer & Cellar is an evening of wholly entertaining theatre…” – Randall King, The Winnipeg Free Press

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