“Covers,” a new production by experimental theater troupe the Lost & Found Project for the Russian division of the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene, attempts to breathe new life into two timeworn themes: young rebellious children and the clash of traditional values in the new world. Premiering May 22 to a packed (and largely Russian-speaking) audience, the show picks up where the troupe’s inaugural production, “Doroga,” left off — young Russian Jewish Americans in present-day Brooklyn, grappling with questions of identity and self-actualization while being smothered by the nagging disapproval of their immigrant parents.
Babushki chattering in Russian, store awnings adorned in Cyrillic, the scent of fresh pierogi in the air — for decades, these displaced attributes of Soviet culture have been characteristic of Brighton Beach, New York’s Russian-speaking enclave in the southern tip of Brooklyn. While much of the borough was busy gentrifying, Brighton managed to stay frozen in time — to the chagrin of many New York Russians, who prefer not to be associated with the ethnic stereotypes of “Little Odessa.” To challenge these negative associations, ArtOnBrighton — a music and arts festival celebrating the diversity of modern post-Soviet Jewry — will take place September 8 just a short walk from the storied neighborhood.
With much fuss and fanfare, this week’s NYU 2012 university commencement marked the conclusion of my undergraduate career. But instead of rushing forth and celebrating recklessly, determinedly, as is perhaps appropriate, that evening was a decidedly low-key affair. In this post-graduation haze, the only thing I’m inclined to do is sit and self-reflect by the glow of my computer screen (a cathartic state rather characteristic of my generation, unfortunately or not).