Birdz of a featherBirdz of a feather

Tel Aviv troupe heads Off-Broadway

Tziporela, on the cusp of its tenth anniversary, snags five-week NYC run

From Tziporela Worldwide, as the Tel Aviv troupe heads to their first Off-Broadway run (Courtesy Tziporela)
From Tziporela Worldwide, as the Tel Aviv troupe heads to their first Off-Broadway run (Courtesy Tziporela)

Tziporela, a Tel Aviv-based fringe comedy ensemble, is heading to New York for a five-week, Off-Broadway run.

The nine-actor group will open the show, to be called “Odd Birdz,” on October 14 at the Player’s Theater.

Founded nine years ago by graduates of the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio, the ensemble crafts a unique brand of comedic sketches and satire, aiming to get audiences laughing at life’s little situations.

“Dreaming the dream is easier than living the dream,” said Gal Friedman, a founding member of the ensemble, describing the two-and-a-half-year effort that went into planning and executing the Off-Broadway run.

The name “Odd Birdz” was chosen after much deliberation. “We realized we needed a different name because ‘Tziporela’ could be a bit hard to say,” said Friedman. “But we’re also not trying to call ourselves by a different name.” In fact, “Tziporela” means little bird.

As signaled by their temporary name, the group aims to keep their comedy current and fresh, despite the need to adjust their content and language to fit the new location.

Lotus Etrog, another founding member, said several regular scenes had to be adapted, such as one involving two cast members playing caustic Israeli stereotypes which will now be changed to New York tourists.

They plan on drumming up audiences with street theater performances in New York and local workshops in English, Hebrew and Russian for educational institutions and businesses, as they’ve done in Tel Aviv and throughout Israel for several years.

Tziporela has already lined up workshops at the Juilliard Drama Division and Bereisheet, an after-school program in northern New Jersey.

With eight shows a week, and the possibility of a workshop every day, the troupe is anticipating a demanding schedule that eclipses their current calendar of five shows per week, and they’ve been working out to prepare for it. Etrog said each member of the ensemble has been exercising to ensure they’re in good physical shape for the stresses of the Off-Broadway run, as well as working on their conversational English.

“We’re not trying to sound American,” said Etrog, “but we want to feel confident enough to explain the show.”

It’s challenging to bring a show written in Israel to an audience many miles away, but Friedman and Etrog feel confident that Tziporela’s nine years of near sold-out performances will ensure a successful run of “Odd Birdz.”

“We’re nervous, but it’s the same before every show,” chuckled Friedman. “It’s made people laugh hundreds of times but you never know if it’ll make them laugh tonight.”

He also hopes the five-week run will be the basis for a long-term relationship with New York, with opportunities for Tziporela to return again to Manhattan and other locations throughout the US.

He’s waiting to see how “Odd Birdz” will be received by critical New York audiences.

“We know we’ll get there and have some amazing experiences, but I don’t know what they’ll say,” said Friedman, “And I’m dying to know what they’ll say.”

Tziporela plans to celebrate its tenth anniversary when the troupe returns from New York.

“Odd Birdz,” Player’s Theater, 115 MacDougal Street, New York, NY, October 14-November 19, Tuesday through Saturday at 8 pm, Sundays at 5pm and 8pm, and Wednesdays at 2 pm. Tickets cost $45 – $65, and are available online.

The troupe will hold a bon voyage show of “Odd Birdz” on Wednesday, September 17, 9 pm, at the Tzavta Theater, 30 Ibn Gvirol Street, Tel Aviv. Tickets cost NIS 130.

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