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Jenny Romaine and Friends, Cambridge, MA, Mar 12, 2008


6pm, March 12th
Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT

"Happy Norouz From Lesser Panda***"
A picture-recitation show about Norouz, the Zoroastrian Persian New
Year, combining storytelling, live music, and paintings by New
York-based Iranian painter Ahmad Azadi. Learn about the holiday, think
about contemporary imagery of Iranians and Muslims in the U.S., and
connect the promise of spring to efforts we must make right now to
locate our power within a democracy.

A stencil grafitti scroll performance inspired by songs about military
service and conscription from Yiddish Eastern Europe. Delivered in
Yiddish with flavorful English translation, 1914 is one of many
ballads in a large body of sung secular literature on this topic. The
piece was made in collaboration with Susan Leviton, Sarah Gordon, and
a study group of elders at Circle Lodge, 2006

"The Ballad of Giorgio Bushwhack"
A truly shocking and real tale about the eponymous lion tamer, told by
Pirate Jenny originally for the famous traveling show Circus Amok!
Paintings by Scotty Heron. Beats by Eminem. You can't make this *%$#
up. Features an authentic Pirate Sing-Along.

AND…Footage of work by Romaine including excerpts from Circus Amok,
the queer street theater circus which plays annually in New York City
parks; her work with young people making glamorous and politically
conscious performance based on the re-invention of traditional popular
theater forms; and a guided tour of the New Yiddish Culture movement
led by immigrant power vixen Betty Boop. We'll screen footage of the
Fleischer brother's early surreal work and see how spirit guide Betty
has inspired an intergenerational mob of performers now tearing up the
streets with such projects as the Sukkos Mob and Electric Menorah.

**Lesser Panda is Brooklyn, New York's Perpetual New Year's Band whose
members are Romaine, Kenny Wollesen, Lee Frisari, Jennifer Harris,
Michael Winograd and Jessica Lurie, and Dr. Rachel Mattson.

JENNY ROMAINE has worked extensively as a puppeteer, performer and
director with the Bread & Puppet Theater , Janie Geiser and Co., Amy
Trompetter, Ninth Street Theater, and OBIE winning Great Small Works ,
of which she is a founding member. She is the musical director of
Jennifer Miller's OBIE/Bessie Award winning outdoor traveling CIRCUS
AMOK. Romaine's recent directorial projects include the Richard Pryor
Trunk Show with Sundree productions, the Spectacle of the Rising Tide
Procession for the River to River Festival, NYC, The Betty Boop Suite
with Trumpet Princess Susan Watts and animator mornography, and Happy
Norouz from Lesser Panda with the performance band Lesser Panda. She
also recently returned from a 2-month trip to India (led by Bond
Street Theater) where she participated in an international tour and
skills exchange project with street performers from Northern and
Southern India, as well as Afghanistan. Romaine conceived and directed
Great Small Works' Memoirs of Glückel of Hameln, a critically
acclaimed adaptation of the classic Yiddish text in collaboration with
Song Diva Adrienne Cooper, composer Frank London of the Klezmatics,
and designers Alessandra Nichols and Clare Dolan.

Romaine creates curriculum and community based spectacles with youth
and adults, which she often directs. Some collaborators have included
the Lesbian Avengers, The Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School,
El Puente Academy, Island Academy (Rikers Island Youth Prison), Jews
For Racial and Economic Justice, The Fifth Avenue Committee, EBC
Bushwick High School in Brooklyn, and Wesleyan University.

Romaine has committed over two decades to the cultivation of new
Yiddish culture, theater, and community based performance art.**
Collaborating with an intergenerational posse of artists, she draws on
diverse Yiddish primary source material to create new art with
contemporary meaning. Recent projects include The Sukkos Mob, an
ambulatory crew of Yiddish-Iranian spectacle singers; An Answer on the
Day You Call: A Rain Dance for the DUMBO Arts Festival; Kids and
Yiddish, the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater's hit family show; Electric
Menorah, a shadow puppet light show for clubs in collaboration with
the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring including the new film A Blue Mime
Khanike featuring Stephen Kaplin, Frank London's Klezmer Brass All
Stars, Sam Wilson , mornography, and Michael Winograd's Infection, The
White Pajamas, a hand painted ethnography in the form of a paper
theater show with Canadian memory painter Mayer Kirshenblatt and Dr.
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett; The Ballad of 1914: on Conscription and
the Draft with Sarah Gordon and Susan Leviton; and numerous Purim
Shpiln (spectacular masquerade balls) the Radical Jew Crew.

In the Yiddish world she has been a resident artist at The Ashkenaz
Festival of New Yiddish Culture in Toronto, Yiddishkayt LA (with
SoCalled), Yiddish Folk Arts school, KlezKamp (where she founded the
Youth Theater Workshop) Klezkanada,(Quebec), BIMA at Brandeis, and
others. Her frequent co-conspirators include Dr. Rachel Mattson, Ahmad
Azadi, Kenny Wollesen, Alessandra Nichols, Jennifer Harris, Lee Free,
Daniel Lang/Levitsky, Dan Blacksburg, Jake Shulman-Ment, Jessica
Lurie, DJ Rekha, Amichai Lau-Lavie, David Felix Sutcliffe, Michelle
Miller, Bernice Silver, and Judith Berkson. Romaine was a sound
archivist at the YIVO Institute for 12 years, received a New Play
Commission in Jewish Theater from the National Foundation for Jewish
Culture in 2003, and was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts
artists' fellowship in Puppetry and Emergent Forms in 1998. She holds
an MA in Performance Studies from the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU.

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