This Wednesday: I’m in a Yiddish Play?

From the original production

I’ve been dancing around the vicinity of Allen Lewis Rickman now for over 15 years. I reviewed his 2003 production of Yiddish playwright Leon Kobrin’s The Woman Next Door at the Folksbienne. I reviewed Shane Baker’s 2012 solo show The Big Bupkis, which Rickman directed. I relished his screen turns on Boardwalk Empire, in the the Coen Brothers’ movie A Serious Man, on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and in Lisa Ferber/ Lisa Hammer’s The Sisters Plotz. I enjoyed his direction of the developmental reading of Lauren Milberger’s Burns and Allen bio-play The Raconteurs. And most recently I interviewed him, his wife actress Yelena Shmulenson, and Shane Baker about their adaptation of Sholem Aleichem plays Tevye Served Raw.

Now, after all that, I’m finally working with him! I’m only reading stage directions and playing a small role in Wednesday’s staged reading at Yivo, but I am delighted to be working with him and his cast. I hope you’ll come. The play is great! Funny, serious, and socio-political all at once. Here’s some description:

Leon Kobrin’s rediscovered 1912 play BREACH OF PROMISEa darkly comic slice of tenement life in New York City, will be presented next Wednesday, July 31st at 7 pm at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in a newly commissioned English translation (from the original Yiddish) by writer/director Allen Lewis Rickman. Kobrin’s play follows Katie Tsimbel, an unmarried 28-year-old, who has gotten herself “in trouble.” At her mother’s urging, she tries to force Bertshik, a Jewish ex-soldier in the Tsar’s army whose fiancée is shortly expected to arrive in America, to marry her by framing him with a Breach of Promise charge.
In addition to Rickman himself (and me), the cast features Yelena Shmulenson (Orange is the New Black, Boardwalk Empire, The Knick, A Serious Man), Brian Morvant (Veep, Gotham, Blue Bloods), Jeremy Lawrence (The Blacklist ER, Night Court), Jacqueline Sydney (Seven Seconds, Filmic Achievement, The President Show), Kevin Sebastian (Blue Bloods, Bull, Murphy Brown), and Sergey Nagorny (Grand Theft Auto V, The Americans, Limitless).
“It’s about time Leon Kobrin was rediscovered,” says Rickman, “He was one of the most interesting Yiddish playwrights of his time. And BREACH OF PROMISE was a play he was very proud of. It’s a story of simple immigrants trying to adjust to the realities of an alien civilization; the characters are complex, the humor comes out of naturalistic situations, and the whole thing feels like a snapshot of the old Lower East Side. And its proto-feminist elements and immigration theme give it a particularly contemporary ring.”
Admission to BREACH OF PROMISE is $15 ($10 for YIVO members & students) and tickets are available at This special event will be a benefit for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, which is located at 15 West 16 Street (between Fifth & Sixth Ave.)