The Architecture of Proximity

Zullo/Raw Movement’s production The Architecture of Proximity is an immersive dance and performance experience exploring the relationship between the architecture of spaces and the physical, psychological and emotional effects of space on the body.

We asked Artistic Director of Zullo/Raw Movement, John Zullo a few questions about his new piece opening in the Theater at the 14th Street Y this Wednesday, October 28th.

Zullo Raw Movement

How would you describe this show to someone that has never experience immersive dance or theater? 

This performance is different from most other performances because there is no seating, therefore the audience is asked to stand during the duration of the performance with freedom to walk around the space. I liken the experience to being at a museum or gallery where you are moving through actively looking and engaging with the works. This allows for a more intimate experience of the work and to actually become part of the whole performance experience.

How did you first become involved with the Y?

I first heard about the Theater at the 14th Street Y when I was at the APAP conference last January.  I visited their booth, and  was able to talk to your staff to learn more about the space.  I like spaces that are unexpected.  My company has been performing mostly in the East Village, and I didn’t know that the Y had this venue.  I think this space allows for the piece to have a blank slate without the space defining the piece.  Instead, this piece is able to define the space.

What do you feel is an important theme of this piece?

In this case, it is playing with borders and boundaries that separate us and erasing them to find communality amongst individuals. It is creating an experience that forces people to deal with and negotiate the relationships that they have with each other and spaces.  Then, we are able to see how physical spaces can affect people physically, emotionally and psychologically.  In this piece, which I think more of as a movement based installation, is immersive through the convergence of movement, sound, architectural spaces, and light.  Through this, we are able to explore the possibility of it all working together– the movement is indicative of the spaces in our lives.

Is there anything else the audience should expect?

My goals for the audience are that they first, experience something that they have never experience before, and second, that they are transformed by the end of the installation.  I hope that the audience is able to find  a sense of openness, and are open to going on this journey with the performers.  The audience becomes part of the work as they are physically engaged in the piece.  Also, I encourage the audience to take photographs (no flash only) during the performance and tag @zullorawmovement on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!


The Architecture of Proximity will be playing at the Theater at the 14th Street Y

October 28th-Nov. 1st

Buy Tickets Here

ORIENTED: Thoughts from Director, Jake Witzenfeld

“I’m figuring out where I stand on a lot of central identity issues:

what being Jewish means to me,

what Israel means to me… “

A few thoughts by the Director of the ORIENTED, Jake Witzenfeld:

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How did the making of the movie come about?

Jake : I came across a YouTube video by a group called Qambuta. It was a stylish protest piece by a group of visibly Palestinian 20-somethings pointing the finger at the heteronormative values of their community in Israel. I was so intrigued by that identity complex: too gay for the Arab sub-community in Israel, too Palestinian for the Jewish majority… a minority inside a minority. I was able to reach out to Khader, the ring leader, through my roommate at the time. We went for drinks, he told me that there was “a Palestinian Woodstock” cultural revival kicking off in Israel, he captivated me with charisma and a nonchalant yet fierce desire for change. I asked him if I could begin shooting him and his world and he agreed. Two years and a little change later, we had a film!


What is a surprising fact that you discovered during the making of Oriented?

Jake: When I started making the film, I felt that I was really capturing a peaking of social activism – like I was following Rosa Parks to the back of the bus. But as the boys did not deliver a revolution, I became frustrated and began questioning that feeling and my own disappointment that they weren’t “giving me” a radical crescendo of change. That’s when I discovered that social change isn’t made the way it is recorded in text books. While successful social action influences macro-narratives, it is made up of micro-actions, attitudes and decisions: where are you partying, who are you dating, what are you posting… that’s what informed the film’s primarily personal approach and storytelling decision.


What world did you discover in Tel Aviv that you didn’t know about?

Jake: The underground gay Palestinian scene. I was aware of it but after Khader welcomed me to begin shooting, I met everyone and saw every spot and really got a 360. We transitioned into friendship very seamlessly and the filmmaking become a very personal journey for all of us.


How has it changed you?

Jake: I believe that I achieved a reflexivity with my subject that required me to mute my own cultural baggage and pre-conceptions. And you don’t just switch that off after final cut and go back to your old ways. I’m figuring out where I stand on a lot of central identity issues: what being Jewish means to me, what Israel means to me… I’ve never felt more unsure on any of those things but, simultaneously, I feel that this new web of interactions and conversations that I’ve entangled myself in has an underlying optimism to it. So let’s see.


What questions will you have afterwards?

Come see ORIENTED November 7th at 8pm at the Theater at the 14th Street Y

Stay after the screening for wine & conversation with the filmmakers and protagonist, Khader Abu Seif

For tickets to ORIENTED click here

USE  CODE: LGBTQ for $9 Tickets

Find out more about other screenings at The Other Israel Film Festival here



Load OUT! Saturday September 12th with Fourth Arts Block

One of our favorite Greening Partners, Fourth Arts Block (also known as FAB) is hosting one of our favorite events of the year, Load OUT!– which is as they describe it, “a bi-annual recycling riot offering free materials to artists and students.”

Save the Date:

Saturday September 12th, 11:00AM-2:00PM at 11 East 3rd Street

load out

As you may know, Load OUT! began as a way for local theaters to dispose of excess materials, and has since grown into a popular bi-annual recycling, re-use and re-purposing event, one in which our own theater has participated.

FAB is committed to diverting materials from the waste stream and providing an outlet for the community to safely dispose of gently used items. Local artists can also acquire items for their own creative projects for free.

Unclaimed items are collected for reuse and recycling by FAB’s community partners, United War Veterans Recycling, GrowNYC, Wearable Collections and Lower East Side Ecology Center.


You can help by donating materials, or by volunteering with Load OUT!. Interested? Please contact for more information

KALEIDOSCOPE – “What Does Jewish Look Like?”

We sat down with Israel Bitton, an actor in the upcoming show KALEIDOSCOPE taking place July 15-19 2015 in The Theater here at the 14th Street Y. Kaleidoscope asks and answers the question, What does Jewish look like? Effectively exploring and validating diversity with the Jewish community.
Actor Brian Britton
Actor Israel Bitton

How did you get involved in KALEIDOSCOPE? 

Several years back I stumbled upon HBO’s Def Jam Poetry when Vanessa Hidary appeared and so passionately delivered a great performance of her piece “The Hebrew Mamita.” It struck a chord. I was proud that she was ‘representin’ us, and at the same time it occurred to me that one day I’d love to do the same. Then I saw her post this project, and it was just an obvious and immediate entry point for me.
What has the creative process been like?
Challenging. Rewarding. Vanessa and Kendell, through the workshop portion of this project, have helped each cast member reach into our personal histories so that we can craft monologues that are both deeply personal and still entertaining for audiences.
How do you view and identify yourself?
The world would peg me as a Modern-Orthodox Sephardic American Jew, but I don’t believe nationality, culture or observance level to be an essential part of my identity. It’s only a flavoring, and therefore I simply identify myself as a Jew.
What would you say defines you as a Jewish identifying person?
My kippah. My name (Yisrael Barouch). My soul.
Can you tell us about what you will be performing at KALEIDOSCOPE?
I explore my journey from being one of the few Sephardic kids in an all-Ashkenazi school system, the trials and tribulations that come along with that experience, my attempt to invent a new identity for myself, to coming to terms with my name, and ultimately, accepting my full identity as a means for true personal growth.
What have you been most surprised about and/or learned the most about during this process?
Aside from the very practical enhancement to writing and performance skills, I’m most surprised by just how diverse our cast really is. As someone who has a unique backstory and perspective, I generally have a broad worldview that allows me to see people beyond the stereotypes. And still, I thought that there would be so many similarities between the cast members that some stories would be redundant. Not so. If you’ll see the first black Jewish cast member perform, and when the second comes up you’ll think you now know what to expect, well, you’ll be surprised at just how unique every individual is. The end lesson, even for me as a cast member, is that despite being told we’re too different, or not good enough, we’re all essentially one and the same. And though we share a common thread that essentially connects us, that connection doesn’t have to compromise our right to self-discovery and the assuming of our unique identities, backgrounds, stories and trajectories.
 In the end, people that watch these performances will certainly be challenged to broaden their conception of what constitutes the Jewish identity.

XpuKM2HM63vBbEctGntYKC1DL-k8M3xc4pKds5QGB5MThe 14th Street Y and The Hebrew Mamita Present:


Developed and Directed by Vanessa Hidary
July 15-19, 2015

Get tickets HERE.

Vivid Reflections. Boldly Diverse. Distinctly Jewish.

The World Premiere of Kaleidoscope, a multi-media project and monologue showcase sparked by a desire to highlight Jews of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and observance levels, will be presented at The Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 E. 14th Street, on July 15th and 16th at 8pm, and on July 19 at 3pm.

Through extensively crafted, deeply personal stories, Kaleidoscope will delve into the ever-popular question “What does Jewish look like to you?” The diverse and talented cast includes performers of a wide range of ethnicities, including Moroccan, British, Jamaican, Ethiopian, Libyan, and Puerto Rican.

Meet 2013-14 LABA Fellows, Artist Tom Block and Writer Clémence Boulouque

Time to meet two new 2013-14 LABA fellows. (Haven’t heard about our arts program, LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish culture? Click here.)

“Conference of the Birds II,” Tom Block

Tom Block is a playwright, author and visual artist.  His plays have been produced in New York and Washington DC; he has had two books published (“Shalom/Salaam: A Story of a Mystical Fraternity” published in the United States and Turkey in 2010 and “A Fatal Addiction: War in the Name of God” in 2012) and has just signed a contract for his third, “Response to Machiavelli,” which explores the American political landscape.  He has exhibited his artwork around the United States and Europe. And he has spoken about his ideas throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Turkey and the Middle East. He was a Research Fellow at DePaul University’s International Human Rights Law Institute (as an artist in residence) in 2010, as well as the founding producer of the Amnesty International Human Rights Art Festival, 2010 (MD).

Clémence Boulouque is finishing her PhD in the joint History and Jewish program at New York University where she focuses on the beginnings of interfaith dialogue through Kabbalah in the 19th century. Before resuming her studies in the United States, she worked for 6 years as a book and movie critic for the French daily newspaper Le Figaro and for the broadcasting station France Culture. Clémence is also a published novelist and non-fiction writer. Her latest and eighth book was released in France in January 2013.

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LABA at the 14th Street Y Spotlight: Siona and Brooke

Hey Y members, you’ve heard about LABA, right? It is our laboratory for Jewish culture in which ancient Jewish texts are used to inspire the creation of new art.

One part of LABA is the House of Study. Every year we invite a group of talented culture-makers to become LABA artist fellows. This means that they get together regularly to study ancient Jewish texts with the LABA faculty and then, yes, use them as inspiration for new art. Come January, you will have a chance to see this new music, theater, dance, art and writing they were inspired to create in the LABAlive series which will run through the summer and take place in our theater.

In the meantime, we thought you might be interested in learning more about the 13 incredibly talented and creative culture-makers chosen as fellows this year. Today we’ll start today with fellows Siona Benjamin and Brooke Berman.  

Siona Benjamin

Siona is a painter originally from Bombay, now living in the US.  Her work reflects her background of being brought up Jewish in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim India. In her paintings she combines the imagery of her past with the role she plays in America today, making a mosaic inspired by both Indian miniature paintings and Sephardic icons.

Visit her website at

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Brooke Berman

Brooke_CompressedBrooke is a playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker who recently wrote and directed her first short film, “Uggs for Gaza,” based on a story by Gordon Haber. Brooke’s plays have been produced at theaters including: Steppenwolf, The Second Stage, Primary Stages, WET, The Play Company and Theater 7 Chicago and developed by The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Williamstown Theater Festival, The Jewish Plays Project, New Dramatists, The Playwrights Center, The Womens Project and others (and in the UK, The Royal Court Theatre and the Royal National Theatre Studio). She’s written films for Natalie Portman, The Mark Gordon Company, Vox Films and Red Crown.  Her memoir “NO PLACE LIKE HOME” was published by Random House in 2010 and called “Highbrow” and “Brilliant” by New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix.  She has recently moved back to NYC after five years in Los Angeles.

Visit her website at

Check out an interview with Brooke here:

AfterWork Theater Project’s Premiere show, “Hair” at the 14th Street Y’s Theater

Remember the feeling of being in a high school show? Whether you are in the ensemble or receive a main part, everyone gets into the show.

After high school, this idea of being in a show for the experience and just for fun is hard to find. Especially in NYC, where theater is a huge part of the city’s culture, there are minimal opportunities to be a part of theater recreationally. Evan Greenberg, Artistic Director of the AfterWork Theater Project, created a company where non-actors – i.e. teachers, lawyers, college students – for a small fee, can enjoy the fun of theater that many of us remember fondly from our high school years. AfterWork Theater Project’s first show, the musical, HAIR is premiering at the theater at the 14th street Y and Evan has offered to tell us a little bit more about the company and the show to come!


So tell us a little bit more about the AfterWork Theater Project, How did it begin?

A year ago, I discovered a void in life after graduating high school drama. I realized there are few theater opportunities in the city that offer that sense of community. After sharing this thought with peers, I learned I was not alone in this realization. There is really no opportunity in NY to be in a cast just for the fun!

Once I decided to start my own recreational theater company, I created a youtube video to spread the word and it really got the ball rolling on this new idea. I began receiving emails and hearing from many people who had an interest in helping me with the company. At the time, I called my company the “Untitled Theatre Project.” Below is a link to the youtube video that started it all, but please be aware that the name is now changed to “AfterWork Theater Project.”

Getting ready to begin your premiere show as AfterWork Theater Project, how would you describe the company now and what it stands for?

Afterwork Theater Project creates theater to foster community and as recreational activity. It is a recreational theater company committed to providing everyday professionals opportunities to be in performances in NYC. Participants pay a tuition and are a part of the production. Parts are decided on what we call, “Launch Day”, a day in which the cast shares skills in order to see where individual’s strengths are. We ask for non-professional actors only and we see the program as simply for fun and make no claims to further the acting careers of our cast members.

The AfterWork Theater Project’s Mission is to foster fun, community, and creative self-expression.

Tell us a little bit more about your premiere show, Hair.

We chose Hair because we definitely wanted to choose an ensemble show and it was number 2 on our list. After focus groups and roundtable discussion, we decided on this play and got down to work. The cast consists of 35 members ranging from age 18 to 65, and consists of everything from a high school graduate to a senior level attorney. We have many teachers involved, lawyers, and college students. We try to keep it at a reasonable time commitment to work with the diversity of our cast’s schedules.

As for the production itself, the quality has far exceeded my expectations. I expected community theater but with the help of director/choreographer, Alex Perez, who has many credits directing off and off-off Broadway, and Musical Director, Julian Reeve, who has worked as a music director in London’s West End, we were able to set a really high standard for professionalism in our work.

We’ve been rehearsing this production for 2 and a half months. The cast has bonded together in a beautiful way and the whole process is sort of taking people back to their youth, not to mention helping release the stresses of their working lives. The spirit of hair is all about breaking down walls and freeing the human spirit and that’s what the project is all about.

Why did you decide to bring it to the Theater at the 14th street Y?

 It is easily the most beautiful theatre I visited. It was also important to me that the production was in downtown Manhattan. The facilities are absolutely beautiful and Becky Skoff’s been awesome.

I even could see in the future a partnership with Afterwork Theater and the Y because I feel our mission is so inline with theirs.

How can we learn more?

Visit the website at:

Also, we are currently open for enrollment for our next show RENT which you can learn about here.

For tickets to Hair, click here or call 1-800-838-3006

From Jacob’s Pillow to the 14th Street Y Theater

This upcoming week we are excited to have with us The Men Dancers: From the Horses Mouth. After a sold-out run last summer at Jacob’s Pillow, 30 male dancers will perform for us here at the Theater at the 14th Street Y. One of the directors and creators, Jamie Cunningham, has shared with us some interesting information about this remarkable program.


Tell us a little about From the Horse’s Mouth, specifically what motivated you to start the company?

We wanted to do a piece that celebrates the whole dance field and that includes dancers, choreographers designers and critics of all ages sexes races and cultures.

At the heart of the piece are the stories that each performer tells about their work, life or conflicts that they have encountered. We see them dancing in their own style as well as interacting with dancers in quite different styles. For example, a ballet dancer collaborating with a hip hop dancer or a spanish Flamenco dancer working with an Indian classical dancer.

The Men Dancers was developed at Jacobs Pillow. Why did you want to bring it to NYC?

This was the first time we have done an all male version of the piece. It was so well received that we wanted to bring it to NYC where it could also include some notable dancers such as Frederic Franklin, Don Redlich, and Jock Soto who were unavailable to do the Pillow performances.

The Theater at the 14th Street Y just started presenting dance shows like this one.  What brought you to our space?

We think the renovation is excellent and appreciate all the help we have received from the staff here.

What is your favorite moment of the show?

The parade at the very end when we see all the dancers from different cultures and epochs as though in the long river of time.

How can Y members learn more?

Go to our website for more information.

Click Here for tickets or call 800-838-3006 ext. #1

Now Dancing in the 14th Street Y Theater

This week we are thrilled to welcome Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble to the Theater at the 14th Street Y.  Anna Sokolow was a revolutionary dancer and choreographer, and she performed here with her ensemble 50 years ago.  Now, Sokolow returns to the Y with a celebration of her work.








Tell us a little about Sokolow.  What makes you unique?


Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble, under the artistic direction of Jim May, is the professional company who serve as guardians of the choreographic masterpieces of Anna Sokolow.  Ms. Sokolow is considered the mother of theatre/dance and the range of her work is truly formidable. Each piece of choreography is bound only to her commitment to her idea, so her repertory is vast and varied.  Famous for intense choreography that tackles both important social and personal issues, the one common theme in all of Ms. Sokolow’s work is her belief in the triumph of the human spirit.


We understand that years ago, Sokolow performed at the 14th Street Y, and now you are returning after a long absence.  Tell us a little of our shared history, and what brought you back here? 


The 14th Street Y was certainly part of the whole dance scene on the lower east side, where Ms. Sokolow lived, and she did present various work here during the course of her early career.   Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble is thrilled to be back.  Ms. Sokolow grew up on Saint Marks place, and her attachment to the neighborhood never wavered. Even after she moved to the West Village, Anna would constantly walk the streets of the Lower East Side, because she felt at home. Ms. Sokolow’s Jewish upbringing, and her devotion to Israel, make performing her work at a Jewish community center especially important.


What can you tell us about this week’s performances?


This week we are presenting two Sokolow pieces from the mid 1950’s.  A Short Lecture and Demonstration on the Evolution of Ragtime, a tongue in cheek jaunt through the evolution of social dance during the rag era set to narration written by Mr. Jelly Roll Morton. And for the first time in 20 years, the company presents Lyric Suite danced to the music of Alban Berg.  Lyric Suite marks what Ms. Sokolow herself deemed the beginning of major works in her career.  The dancers perform by seamlessly interweaving drama, movement and musicality to present Ms. Sokolow’s first seminal work.  Also on the program is Jim May’s striking duet: Empty Nest.


Wednesday evening at 7:30, Jim May will present a lecture on Ms. Sokolow’s career and works.  Rarely seen footage of her work will be shown.


How can Y members learn more?


Go to for more information

Click Here for tickets or call 1-800-838-3006



3WEEKS Opening Friday Night!

Cast members from the original opera 3WEEKS take action in song!

There are Three Days to catch 3Weeks in our Theater:

Friday, September 28th 8:00PM

Saturday, September 29th; 2:00PM and 8:30PM

Sunday, September 30th; 3:00PM

3Weeks is an original opera written by two of the 14th Street Y’s own LABA artists. 

Come see why the NYTimes called it “fresh”, and “an achievement….with a core of real feeling”.