Following its acclaimed U.S. premiere in Chicago, I KILLED MY MOTHER, a new play by celebrated Romanian playwright András Visky, will make its New York premiere at La Mama E.T.C. this winter in a production staged by director Karin Coonrod. Through March 4, Chicago's Theatre Y will bring the lyrical tale of an orphaned Romanian teenager’s personal odyssey to LaMaMa as a highlight of the downtown institution's 50th anniversary season.
Set in Romania, the two-person play tells the story of Bernadette, a girl who grows up in a series of Romanian orphanages after being abandoned by her mother. With the help of her friend Clip, she learns to transcend the incessant brutality of her surroundings and turn her back on parasitic relationships, even the maternal bond, in order to realize her own extraordinary identity.
Coonrod, whose work has been hailed by the New York Times as "prodigiously inventive," has won praise for her innovative re-imaginings of classic plays for The Public Theatre, New York Shakespeare Festival, and Theatre for a New Audience. She most recently directed the acclaimed production of William Shakespeare’s "Love's Labor's Lost" at The Public Theater.
I KILLED MY MOTHER is a fiction based on the true story of one of the many Romanian orphans born under the reign of Nicolae Ceau?escu, the Communist dictator who outlawed both contraception and abortion. Thousands of desperate women were forced to abandon their newborn babies, and many of the orphanages and juvenile homes created to deal with them suffered from appalling conditions and abusive staff. The issue continues to have ramifications for Romania even 20 years after Ceau?escu’s execution.
One of Eastern Europe's most active living playwrights, András Visky has had his plays staged throughout Europe and in the United States. He is the associate artistic director of the Hungarian Theater of Cluj, Romania, where he has collaborated with such prominent U.S. artists as RoBert Woodruff, the former artistic director of the American Repertory Theater, and Obie Award-winning director Andrei Serban. Both men will be on hand for a discussion of Visky's work hosted by the Romanian Cultural Institute on February 15th at La MaMa.
“My mentor was the brilliant Romanian director Liviu Ciulei, and meeting a playwright from his birthplace who shares his passion, boldness, and engagement with political issues was like discovering a long-lost brother,” said Coonrod. “But what's most striking about Visky's play is its universality – it's about the spiritual leap required to transcend difficult relationships of all kinds, whether they be with a birth mother, a mother country, or any other unhealthy bond.”
Coonrod and Theatre Y debuted their spare, poetic production of I KILLED MY MOTHER in Chicago in 2010 to critical acclaim and sold-out houses. The company, which has deep ties to Eastern Europe, enjoyed a triumphant launch in 2006 with the first U.S. production of Visky's play JULIET, starring actor and current artistic director Melissa Hawkins, who also plays Bernadette in I KILLED MY MOTHER. The production continues LaMaMa's decades-long tradition of introducing American audiences to some of Eastern Europe's most influential theater artists, including Serban, who emigrated to the U.S. from Romania in 1969 with the help of La MaMa founder Ellen Stewart.
The cast of I KILLED MY MOTHER is Theatre Y’s Melissa Hawkins (Bernadette) and Andrew Livingston (Clip). Other members of the artistic team include Peter Ksander (lighting and scenic design), Eduardo Paulo (graphic design) and Christopher McLinden (Producing Artistic Associate).
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online (www.lamama.org) or by phone 212-475-7710. Each 90-minute performance starts at 7:30pm.