Past Seasons

Past Arts + Culture Seasons

A Season of Life + Death | 2019 – 2020

“In the Jewish Culture, when someone is grieving, we let them speak first. We let them drive the conversation.”

These words by former Executive Director, Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein, were words of comfort and preparation after the unexpected and personal loss of my father. In her tenure at the 14th Street Y, Rabbi Shira provided insurmountable support for the community and her lasting impression will be a driving force for our values at the 14th Street Y for years to come.

The Arts + Culture + LABA Team would like to dedicate our 2019/2020 Season of Life + Death to Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein as she continues to inspire the world on an international level.

As we see in the 2019/2020 Season, different cultures honor and celebrate the life cycle in many ways. Our diverse artists wrestle with how we can learn from the traditions of previous generations and pay tribute through living life to its fullest. While at times the pieces we read made me suddenly remember my own grief, it was a refreshing discovery that our artists are drawn to tales of survival and remembrance to explore the theme. There is humor in the life cycle as well as joy and courage.

We have productions about surviving cancer, recovering from drug addiction, a son learning about his father’s battle with AIDS, a darkly humored ghost story from the Bronx, and a rich and lyrical play about love and loss from acclaimed playwright/director José Rivera. Join us as we explore these themes with innovative new works of theater, dance and opera. We’ll see you in the Theater.

—David Stallings, Director of Arts + Culture

2019 – 2020 Brochure
A Season of War & Peace | 2018 – 2019

After a year of studying Jewish texts on War & Peace, the LABA Fellows and the artistic team are questioning even more the idea of “holy war.” What do we fight for, what does freedom feel like and are our ideals even realistic? Ultimately, our battles are a series of compromises. But to what end? Even more crucial, we have begun questioning our self-imposed banners: “progressive,” “liberal,” “accepting.” What do these mean? Are we honestly listening to opposing viewpoints? Have we become as indoctrinated and radical as the ones we fear?

In choosing our 2018–19 Season, the Arts + Culture team wanted to further this line of questioning War & Peace on both the literal and more ambiguous ephemeral levels. We are presenting plays exploring a wide range of the divides we see in our social landscape. From Holocaust deniers to gay parents fighting stigmas and teachers fighting for freedom of speech in the classroom, these plays are sure to trigger conversation and a call to action.

Our year of study with LABA on Jewish texts of War & Peace now translates into a Season that shares our questions with you. Audiences will not be quiet observers, but hopefully inspired players as well.

—David Stallings, Associate Artistic Director

2018 – 2019 Brochure

Past Virtual Season | March 2020 – June 2021

LABA Arts + Culture Reignited

We asked our community to take an hour most Fridays during the pandemic to kick off the weekend laughing, crying and everything in between with our artists who shared how this year has affected them and shaped their work.

This series featured developing work and talkbacks with our 2021 LABA fellows, works-in-progress from our LABA 2nd stage artists in residency, and local artists looking for space to share their art.

Chosen For #Nastiness – A Night of LABA Comedy

Friday, June 25 | 7:00 PM
Join us for a night of comedy headlined by LABA Chosen Fellow Rachel Joravsky. We will watch the short film “Rachel Joravsky is Thriving Off the Government” and laugh along with a showcase of LABA Humor Fellows.

Please note that the content of this comedy will not be appropriate for children.

LABA Presents…Between Two Midwestern Jewesses

Friday, June 18 | Watch the recording here. 
LABA Fellow Rachel Joravsky will show an excerpt from her short film “Rachel Joravsky is Thriving Off the Government” and will then be in conversation with Laura Beatrix Newmark, LABA NY Director and Producer, #NastyWomen: A Night of Female Resistance Comedy at the 14Y, about comedy, LABA and midwestern Jewish values.

In the Studio with Jody Sperling/Time Lapse Dance: The Making of Bunhead’s Back!

Friday, June 11 | Watch the recording here.

Get a “behind the mask” view of the creative process with choreographer Jody Sperling and her Time Lapse Dance company during their residency at the 14th Street Y. Sperling shares clips from her film-in-progress “Bunhead’s Back!,” the story of a Degas ballerina whose head is screwed on backwards. The presentation includes a conversation with the film’s star, Maki Kitahara, about what it’s like to turn oneself around–literally and figuratively–and on the contortions of conformity. Included in the conversation are mask artist Erin Or and pianist Jeffrey Middleton, who recorded the score. Sperling will also share teasers of other upcoming works.

Rising Sun Performance Company

Friday, May 21 | Watch the recording here.

Dive into play development with Rising Sun Performance Company, an award-winning indie theater company. Friday at 5pm EST, we chat with five Rising Sun Company Playwrights to discuss their original plays developing through Rising Sun Performance Company’s Lab at the Theater at the 14th Street Y.

LABA Presents… Screening: 3 Questions

Friday, February 26 | Watch the recording here.
Fridays@5 kicks off with LABA Fellow Rebecca S’manga Frank sharing her short documentary 3 Questions, which asks a group of Black men their thoughts and feelings about where they are today and their responses to the events of January 6th. There will be a discussion following the film with participants from the documentary and including the intriguing parallels to the holiday of Purim.

Preview: UN-PLAGUED Artist Residencies

Friday, March 5 | Watch the recording here. 

Please join us for an online preview of four dynamic and humorous new works being developed by artists in our newly launched residency program. Artists will take you on a “Behind the Zoom” journey of their work and perform excerpts from DEAD + ALIVE, NAME GAME, VAYNBERG, and SUPPOSE THEY GAVE HYMIE WILHELM A SHOW AND NOBODY CAME.

COVID-19 YAHRZEIT with Site: Yizkor

Participatory performance and writing workshop to reflect and commemorate the last year of COVID-19 and all that has changed, led by Maya Ciarrocchi with music by Andrew Conklin.
Friday, March 12 | Watch the recording here.

Who honors the spaces left by the dead? How and why do people and cultures disappear?

These questions animate Site: Yizkor, an in-process interdisciplinary project created collaboratively by Maya Ciarrocchi and composer Andrew Conklin. Site: Yizkor explores the physical and emotional manifestation of loss through text, drawing, video, and music. Its source material includes architectural renderings of demolished buildings, memory maps of vanished places, field recordings of folk music, and prose remembrances obtained from historical Yizkor books and from project participants.

To commemorate the anniversary of the 14Y closing its doors, Join LABA artist Maya Ciarrocchi for a participatory performance where we will read selections from Yizkor books and writing generated during previous workshops accompanied by live video and music. Following the reading, attendees will be invited to create their own Yizkor pages as a way to mourn lost people and places and the transformative last year.

The Notorious Matriarchs

Friday, March 19 | Watch the recording here.

LABA Fellows Mindy Pfeffer and Dvir Cahana celebrate Women’s History Month with a one-woman show about Mindy’s quest to find her power, and complete a triathalon, and Dvir performing a trio of raps on feminism, RBG, and the matriarch of his family, his grandma, who survived the death marches.

LABA Presents: Grandfather Visit

A dance testimony piece in the memory of Prof. Kalman Perk
Friday, April 9 | 5:00 PM | Watch the recording here. 
LABA Fellow Doron Perk talks about his grandfather Kalman and shares fragments of his solo dance performance inspired by his many visits with him, the stories he told, the things they talked about, and the way they sat and had tea.

In July of 1944, in a crowded cattle wagon headed to the death camps, 14-year-old Kalman was chosen by his family to survive by escaping through the narrow window. As his grandchild, Doron chooses to keep his memory alive by using his moving body as a vessel for feelings and sensations he remembers having while being together.


Dwelling in a Time of Plagues

Dwelling in a Time of Plagues is a Jewish Artist collaboration funded by CANVAS a Jewish Funders Network that spans six cities: New York City, Baltimore, Toronto, Boston, Charlotte and Detroit. Seven Jewish artists have created original pieces that represent a current plague of our time, echoing the plagues of Passover: COVID, Food Insecurity, Darkness, Housing Insecurity, Single Use Plastic, Grief & Loss and Binary Thinking.

In an ambitious, multi-layered series of new works that push us out of our comfort zone and make us reflect on the present and past, these seven Artists shine light on the pain, loss, gravity and inequity of our time and ask us to look straight at it, without shying away, and ultimately, these artists create beauty out of darkness that lifts and inspires. Join us as we ask more than four crucial questions dwelled on by our artists, writers and collaborators this Passover. We are so proud that the work of two LABA alumni, Tal Beery and Maya Ciarrocchi, is featured in this series.

In addition to the many virtual events we have upcoming, we invite you to experience these works in person by walking by “This Place has a Body” Mural on 13th street or on the ZAZ Corner Billboard (South East Corner of 41st Street and 7th Avenue) and concurrently on the ZAZ10Ts Gallery Wall in the lobby of 10 Times Square, or by adding this thoughtful supplement on the 10 modern plagues to your seder.

To see all the works on display, visit

Opening Event: Dwelling in a Time of Plagues
Thursday, March 25 

Before Passover begins, join us for the opening of “Dwelling in a Time of Plagues,” a Jewish Artist response to contemporary plagues that spans six cities, seven artists, five arts organizations and many national partners.

This Place Has a Body
Opened Friday, March 26
14th Street Y building, façade of 13th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue
Video Installation: ZAZ10TS Times Square Billboard
New York City is a city in constant flux and a place of ghosts. We live in apartments that housed countless generations of individuals and families, new buildings rise on top of the foundations of what came before, and long-familiar businesses open and close overnight. Now during the COVID-19 pandemic, this flux is more rapid and the scale of loss so immense we barely have time to comprehend its breadth. Combining decorative details that adorned the walls and ceilings of now-vanished wooden synagogues with her dancing body and the Unicorn, an ancient symbol of death and rebirth, Maya’s mural project and video installation This Place Has a Body creates new fantastical spaces out of the residue of loss.

A video installation of This Place Has a Body will be showcased on the ZAZ Corner Billboard (South East Corner of 41st Street and 7th Avenues) and will concurrently be projected on the ZAZ10Ts Gallery Wall in the lobby of 10 Times Square. For more information, visit

Artist Talks: Contemporary Plagues
Wednesday, March 31

Join us view the five murals and hear from the artists about their work, and the plague theme behind their projects. This event is part of is part of Dwelling in a Time of Plagues, a coast-to-coast Jewish artistic response to contemporary plagues. Each artist will share their project and inspiration and answer your questions about their work.

Virtual Opening Event: in the absence of a proper mourning
Thursday, April 1

Join us virtually at the Jewish Museum of Maryland for the official opening of in the absence of a proper mourning. This installation asks us to confront numerous difficult questions related to our connections to one another and transforms the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s public-facing facade into a site for collective mourning and communal care. In this event we will hear from the artist, Tal Beery, on his inspiration and process in creating the piece. The event will offer a unique opportunity to hear the voices of participants of the project.

These projects were created in collaboration with Asylum Arts, The Jewish Book council, ZAZ10 and the Maryland Jewish Museum and funded by Canvas a Jewish Funders Network.

Artist Insights

Artist Insight: Queerly Contemporary 
PRIDE 365 Edition
Director of Arts + Culture David Stallings is joined by 14Y’s PRIDE Fest Founder Larry Daniels to chat with John Zullo. For the second time John Zullo’s Queerly Contemporary Dance Festival was to be a highlight of 14Y’s PRIDE programming. John will be joined by multiple artist featured in this year’s online version.
Click here to watch.

BIPOC Voices: Johari Mayfield 
Arts Activism Onstage and Outside: A conversation with Johari Mayfield
Johari Mayfield is a fitness instructor at 14Y, an artist featured in our 2019/2020 Theater Season, and in recovery. Johari joins us to discuss how she has taken the message of her art into her work, how that has changed since NYC went “on pause” due to COVID-19, and how it feels to be Black Female Artist during a time of social unrest.
Click here to watch.

Artist Insight: Nitsan Margaliot  
PRIDE 365 Edition 
Nitsan has spent quarantine in Berlin working on a poetic diary that follows trajectories from his grandfather escaping Europe during the Holocaust, his perspective on diaspora, queer ancestors, romantic relationships, and most boldly the idea of art making as love making especially during this time. Join us for a preview of this work.
Click here to watch.

LABA Launch 
Director of Arts + Culture David Stallings interviews Ronit Muszkatblit (currently on sabbatical, Senior Director of Arts + Culture) and Laura Beatrix Newmark (Director of LABA/Culture Producer) to discuss how we came to LABA, our LABA projects, where LABA is, where we hope to go, and announce the THEME for the new season. Also featuring Mirta Kupferminc, LABA alum and Creator/Artistic Director of our first LABA Hub, LABA BA – aka: LABA Buenos Aires.
Click here to watch. 

Meet The Theater at the 14th Street Y: Part 2
Join our Arts + Culture staff once again for a look into our backgrounds and stories!
Click here to watch.

Other Virtual Arts + Culture Events
Tikkun: Into the Night

The 14th Street Y and Downtown Jewish Life partners are proud to end our Season of Jewish Culture as we celebrate Shavuot on Thursday, May 28 at 6:00 PM via the Virtual 14th Street Y, with our own digital re-interpretation of a Tikkun.

Led by the Downtown Jewish Life Community, the evening will include artistic engagement, performances, and text study in Hebrew and English. Let the mysteries begin and join us on the journey into the night.
Click here to watch. 

Meet the Theater at the 14th Street Y

You might walk into 14Y’s theater and expect to see some small amateur production, but did you know we are actually an AEA approved 125-seat black box?  Did you know that we’ve showcased international dance companies and award-winning playwrights? Join the staff of the Arts+Culture department for a look into our theater backgrounds, what we do when we are not at work, and the unusual ways we all came to be running a theater together.
Cick here to watch.


‘What would you do if you were alone, left to raise five hungry children? What can I tell them? Stop eating?’
Chicago. 1925. Or maybe it’s 1905. Or 1955. Grandma Goldy has a hardware store, five children, no money and a dead husband. She also has a story about getting involved with Prohibition, rum-running and the mob. And a slide show. (Even if her own family doesn’t remember.)

Stills is an excerpt from a developmental preview performance of a one-woman show written by LABA London Fellow Sarah Sigal, directed by Adam Lenson and performed by Debbie Chazen. To be followed by a Q&A with the creative team.
Click here to watch.

Pause/Play: The BEST of the 14th Street Y
Shabbaton Atzmaut Edition

The 14th Street Y is launching a new Virtual Membership starting May 1 and what better way to kick it off than with a digital reinterpretation of Pause/Play!

Join us for a fun-filled day of live-streaming classes, workshops, and entertainment via Facebook Live. this virtual event will feature everything from fitness classes to sing-alongs the whole family can enjoy, and even a cocktail making class! There will truly be something for everyone!

PAUSE/PLAY, which is also part of our Season of Jewish Culture, we will be celebrating Israel’s birthday with special cultural lectures and artistic delights.
Click here to watch. 

Yom Haatzmaut

We will be celebrating this year’s Yom Haatzmaut with an online lecture by award winning Israeli Journalist Amir Tibob on the impact of the coronavirus over Israeli politics, briefing the risks and opportunities it possesses.  Ahead of Israel’s Independence Day, join award-winning Israeli journalist  Amir Tibon for an online briefing on these crucial times in Israel. Amir, currently the Washington Correspondent for Haaretz newspaper, will discuss the recent events and answer questions on the subject.
Click here to watch.

Behind the Scenes with Shtumer Shabes (Silent Sabbath) 

Join us as we go behind the scenes and back in time with the creative team from Shtumer Shabes (Silent Sabbath), the new play by LABA Fellow Rokhl Kafrissen. It’s a show about Yiddish theater, human experimentation, and making art in the most difficult times. In other words, a comedy.

Cast members Caraid O’Brien, Dylan Seders Hoffman and Max Roll will perform short excerpts from the play, set in the early 2000s East Village and 1930s Warsaw. Then Rokhl and director Aaron Beall will join special guests in conversation about the unique people and places which inspired the show.
Click here to watch.

Zabar & Vaynberg: You’ll Say You Heard Us When 

Zabar & Vaynberg: You’ll Say You Heard Us When written by writer and actor Liba Vaynberg and stand-up and character comedian Willie Zabar (both LABA Humor Fellows). Two bored Jews who refuse to show their faces make their voices heard through specious news stories, dated commercials and inaccurate commentary. A good old-fashioned audio collaboration full of telephone calls, jingles and errors in judgment!
Click here to watch.


During Passover, Jews are forbidden to eat all bread and leaven.  In Morocco, Jews open their homes on the last day of Passover to their Muslim neighbors to celebrate the end of those restrictions.  Join us for an online Mimouna musical show, featuring enchanting Moroccan tunes played by the musician Jawad Bouhssina, followed by a Talkback that will shed light on the holiday’s origin and in importance if interfaith initiatives in 2020.
Click here to watch.

Yom Hashoah

The Downtown Jewish Life community will gather in remembrance of the many lives lost in the Holocaust.  Through song, stories and prayer, community leaders will create a space to ensure that future generations never forget the past while paving a future with unity and hope.
Click here to watch.

The Jewnight Show: A Pandemic Passover

When we saw the lamb’s blood on the theater door, we knew we needed a Plan B. Welcome to The Jewnight Show: Pandemic Passover, a live late-night talk show sheltering in place on your personal computer. The show’s guests include biblical Hebrews and feature the 2019-2020 LABA Fellows.

As LABA Fellow and The Jewnight Show creator Mark Katz notes, we are actually “in a Laboratory for Jewish Culture” taking one of our LABA Fest live shows and pivoting to the land beyond, the high-speed internet.
Click here to watch.

Making Matzoh Balls with My Mommy

Laura Beatrix Newmark, Director of LABA and Culture Producer, joins her mother Susan to show viewers how to make matzoh balls using a special recipe handed down from grandmother to mother.
See her cooking demonstration here.
Check out the full recipe here!