Arlekin Players Theatre and Zero Gravity Lab Announce the World Premiere of ‘Witness’

Arlekin Players, an award-winning, artist-driven theater company rooted in traditions of classical and contemporary Russian theater and dedicated to imaginative storytelling and new forms of theater, is excited to announce the World Premiere of WITNESS, the newest virtual theater piece from their groundbreaking Zero Gravity (zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab. This bold and complex documentary theater piece bears witness to the migratory experience of Jewish people in the face of antisemitism and will be the first production of Arlekin’s 2021-2022 season; previews will take place December 10 – 12, at 7:30 p.m. ET with the World Premiere on Monday, December 13, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

WITNESS was created through interviews and the use of historic materials, primarily sourced from the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It has been woven together into a dramatic documentary script by playwright Nana Grinstein (Moscow), with additional writing by dramaturg Blair Cadden and Arlekin’s artistic director and WITNESS director Igor Golyak. The piece is inspired by the journey of the MS St. Louis, which left Hamburg in 1939 with over 900 Jewish people on board and headed to Cuba only to be turned away, leaving the passengers stranded with nowhere to go and no escape. WITNESS shares these stories through an interactive virtual theater experience at the nexus of film, theater and video games.

“We have been in an intense period of experimentation with virtual theater through the two productions we created during the pandemic (State vs Natasha Banina and chekhovOS /an experimental game/).  We were able to reach audiences in over 40 countries which was incredible.  WITNESS is the next step in our exploration, and for this show we are experimenting with a new combination of tools that may have not been used previously in the virtual theater medium.” says Golyak. “We are creating WITNESS at a time when Jewish refugees around the world are having conversations around kitchen tables about the lack of safety, of belonging, of finding a home in the face of rising antisemitism. These are questions that Arlekin’s resident company of actors, and our larger community, are asking: “Will my children be safe? What’s the next pit stop? When do we start packing?”  Because we are producing WITNESS virtually, we are able to invite audiences from across cultures and time zones to an interactive experience where they can encounter the stories of Jewish people migrating, fleeing persecution, and to engage in these questions with us. That’s an extraordinary opportunity”.

Set on a boat in the digital space, WITNESS includes multiple languages, stunning visuals, intimate stories, and critical moments of live choice by the audience throughout a live, interactive performance that will never be the same twice. The creative team includes artistic partners and technical experts collaborating across five countries; the cast features the Arlekin resident acting company with Gene Ravvin in the lead role, joined by a diverse group of voice actors, alongside Boston favorites Lauren Elias, Anne Gottlieb and Nathan Malin.

Tickets for WITNESS may be purchased 24/7 at www.zerogravity.art.

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