United Palace of Cultural Arts (UPCA)

Where Art Transforms Lives in Washington Heights

PAST EVENT - Celebrating "Sosua" in film and musical theatre

Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 7pm

FREE entrance with RSVP (See  below)

The evening will feature the musical "Sosúa: Dare to Dance Together" and the documentary film about its creation, "Sosúa: Make a Better World." The screening and the performance will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Peter Miller and Renee Silverman, and theatrical producer Victoria Neznansky.

The musical explores how the town of Sosúa in the Dominican Republic became home to 800 German and Austrian Jews fleeing Hitler in 1938 and how the Dominican townsfolk helped them. It was created by 20 uptown teens under the guidance of legendary theatre director and composer Liz Swados and produced by the YM/YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood. This will be the New York City premiere of the film, and the final performance by the teens.

Background:

In a neighborhood where Jews and Latinos live side by side but rarely interact, the YM&YWHA of Washington Heights initiated a theatre project in 2010 that brings its young actors on an extraordinary journey of discovery of what unites them.

Under the guidance of legendary theater director Liz Swados and with support from the UJA-Federation of NY, the 20 teens (10 Jewish, 10 Dominican) created their own musical about a moment of shared history: the story of how the town of Sosúa in the Dominican Republic became home to 800 German and Austrian Jews fleeing Hitler in 1938. Based on monologues the teens wrote themselves, the musical reveals how the refugees settled in Sosúa, an abandoned banana plantation, and how the Dominican townsfolk helped them. The teens titled the musical, "Sosúa: Dare to Dance Together."

The play is the brainchild of Victoria Neznansky, Chief Program Officer at the Washington Heights Y. She had seen an exhibit about Sosúa and realized the potential of the story to create a greater connection between the Dominican and Jewish communities where she works. The Washington Heights Y has continued to present the program with new teenagers every year since 2010, including at the United Nations for the Holocaust Memorial Ceremony on January 27th, 2012.

The program is completing its fourth and last year at the Washington Heights Y.

Starting in 2009, the award-winning filmmakers Peter Miller and Renee Silverman began to document the musical, interweaving the little-known story with an intimate, behind-the-scenes portrait of the making of the theater production. The film, "Sosúa: Make a Better World," has been shown at film festivals.

While the Sosúa project will be ending at the Washington Heights Y, the message will continue to educate audiences through the documentary. In this way the story of Sosúa becomes a powerful tool to bring the message of tolerance and peace to students and educators around the world.

More about the musical here.

More about the documentary at www.sosuafilm.com.

Teen actress Kaitlin Abreu (right) with Sosua refugee Juliana Biro.

This UPCA event is part of the Uptown Arts Stroll, Northern Manhattan's annual arts festival. Learn more here.

Co-sponsored by:

    
 

The United Palace is located at 4140 Broadway at W. 176th Street

It is 1-block from the 175th Street A-train station.

Parking on Broadway b/w 176th & 177th Streets.

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