‘hOMAge’ Conveys Traumatic Story of World War II Refugee

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“hOMAge” is an original, physical theater exploration devised by The Clearing Collaborative Ensemble and directed by Natanya Ruth Silverman, inspired by the letters and poetry of the director’s grandmother, Hella Kurth (“Oma” in German), a WWII refugee, cancer survivor and yogini. It is part narrative, part movement piece and it incorporates song and dance. It is devised and performed by an all female ensemble of choreographers, musicians, and actors dressed in white, who create the physical and emotional world of the story and bring the words and wisdom of Kurth to life. Theater for the New City’s 2015 Dream Up Festival will present the work September 17 to 20, 2015 at Producer’s Club Theaters, 358 West 44th Street.

The play’s staging incorporates simple paper props, projections, lights, and stop animation. Its vocals evoke songs from the time period of the piece as well as popular songs with instrumental accompaniment that relate to the themes of the story.

Hella Kurth, a World War II and cancer survivor, was never at a loss for words when it came to describing the beautiful struggle inherent in a meaningful life. A yoga practitioner for over 50 years, Oma reminds us to look to nature and the past for the inspiration to be your most expressive and generous self. On “hOMAge,” director Silverman says: “I’ve wanted to share my grandmother’s words with the world for years. I used to read her letters to friends, and shared her poetry with students who all spoke of their power and haunting depth.”

Natanya Ruth Silverman (director) is an actress, director, writer, teacher and yoga instructor. She has spent most of her life teaching and devising theater. In 2008, she was introduced to devised theater working with the Ochlos Theater Collective, with whom she created an original play about the inner workings of Medea’s mind, “M3dea, What Was She Thinking?” The show was highlighted at the San Francisco Fury Factory Festival. Inspired by her new understanding of how to make theater, for the next five years she trained in mask-making, mime, character development and collaborative theater with Dell ‘Arte International in Northern California, The Grotowski Institut in Brezinska, Poland and Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Upon arriving in NYC in 2011, she founded The Clearing Collaborative Theater Company and developed a small-scale workshop performance of “hOMAge.” In 2014, “hOMAge” was performed in the 2014 Venus Theater Festival, earning 3rd place. Elements “of hOMAge” were also featured as part of the 2014 Theater for the New City’s Lower East Side Festival of the Arts. Silverman led a 4-day workshop series developing the show as part of Chashama’s 2014 Summer Performance Series. Recently she and The Clearing members Caroline Lyons and Megan Caniglia devised a new short play on transformation, “PEEL,” which premiered as part of Boston’s phantom phantom experimental performance series in March 2015 and was presented in May 2015 as part of Theater for the New City’s Lower East Side Festival of the Arts.

The piece is choreographed, written, and designed by members of The Clearing Collaborative Ensemble (www.truthruth8.wix.com/the-clearing): Natanya Ruth Silverman, Caroline Lyons, Simone Tetrault, Cayla Bittner, and Megan Caniglia.

The sixth Dream Up Festival (www.dreamupfestival.org) will be presented by Theater for the New City (TNC) from August 30 to September 20, 2015, offering a lineup of wide-ranging and original theatrical visions embracing drama, musicals, improv, aerial and more. This year, owing to growing popularity, the festival has expanded beyond its primary venue. Previously, all productions were presented at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. This year, 19 productions will be presented at TNC and seven will be presented at an outside venue, The Producers Club Theaters at 358 West 44th Street.

The festival is dedicated to new works. TNC feels this festival is especially needed now in a time of declining donations to the arts, when grants are not being awarded due to market conditions and arts funding is being cut across the country and abroad. The festival aims to push ideas to the forefront through imaginative presentations so as to challenge audience expectations and make us question our understanding of the way art illuminates the world around us.

The show is presented by Theater for the New City (Crystal Field, Artistic Director) as part of the Dream Up Festival 2015 from September 17 to September 20. Performances are September 17 at 6:30 PM, September 18 at 9:00 PM, September 19 at 2:00 PM, September 19 at 8:00 PM, September 20 at 2:00 PM, September 20 at 8:00 PM at Producers’ Club Theaters, 358 West 44th Street. Tickets are $18. Box office is (212) 254-1109. You can find more information and purchase tickets at www.dreamupfestival.org