NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Drama Therapy and The Hebrew Home at Riverdale present The Birds, a therapeutic theater performance featuring the nursing home’s residents and staff and NYU students. Four performances take place November 9 through 16.
The Birds, a comedy by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes, was first performed in 414 B.C. More than 2400 years later, playwright Rachel Kauder Nalebuff has adapted the play in partnership with The Hebrew Home’s residents and drama therapists Barbara Kaynan and Kate DelPizzo.
The Birds follows the story of two lost Athenians who, disillusioned with Athens, have left in search of a new home. They end up finding a surprisingly pleasant home amongst a flock of birds, and together create a new city in the sky.
Through language, music, art, and movement, The Hebrew Home and NYU community explores what it means for an unlikely bunch to live and work together. The play asks us to consider how we hold space for both grief and hope while navigating the complexities that accompany leaving home and creating and settling in a shared, new community.
The cast is comprised of 11 older adults living at the Hebrew Home, who play a colorful array of birds, humans, and gods. The Hebrew Home’s staff partner with the residents in supportive roles. Additional residents and staff have also been involved in the creation of the set, costumes, choreography, props, artwork for publicity, and sound for the production.
“Our adaptation of Aristophanes’ The Birds explores the meaning of community. Devising this play together has been the vehicle for our exploration. The play’s themes of searching for home and finding it within each other are emanating throughout The Hebrew Home’s residents and staff,” said Barbara Kaynan, director of The Birds, a drama therapist at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, and an alumna of NYU Steinhardt's Program in Drama Therapy.
The Birds is part of NYU Drama Therapy’s therapeutic theatre series, As Performance, which seeks to explore the aesthetic, therapeutic, and ethical issues embedded in the process of making theatre. Drama therapists participate as artists, and artists explore a therapeutic process.
The Birds will be performed at NYU Steinhardt’s Black Box Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 2:30 pm and Sunday, Nov. 12 at 2:30 pm, as well as at The Hebrew Home on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 2:30 pm and Thursday, Nov. 16 at 2:30 pm.
The Black Box Theatre is located in NYU Steinhardt’s Pless Hall at 82 Washington Square East. For tickets ($15 general, $5 for students and seniors), visit tickets.nyu.edu, call 212-998-4941, or visit the NYU Box Office in person at 566 LaGuardia Place.
The Hebrew Home at Riverdale is located at 5901 Palisade Avenue in the Bronx. Admission is free for the performances at the Hebrew Home; please RSVP to Mary.Farkas@hebrewhome.org.
Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, established in 1925, instructs over 1,600 students majoring in music and performing arts programs. MPAP serves as NYU’s “school” of music and is a major research and practice center in music technology, music business, music composition, film scoring, songwriting, music performance practices, performing arts therapies, and the performing arts-in-education (music, dance, and drama). Prominent alumni include: jazz great Wayne Shorter, music theatre composer and songwriter Cy Coleman, lyricist Betty Comden, film composer Elmer Bernstein, Tony Award, Oscar and playwright and film writer John Patrick Shanley, and Ian Axel and Chad King of A Great Big World. Visit MPAP at steinhardt.nyu.edu/music.
The Hebrew Home at Riverdale, part of the RiverSpring Health family of care solutions, is celebrating its centennial anniversary. This non-profit senior healthcare organization provides care to nearly 13,000 older adults throughout the New York metropolitan area every day through managed health care, assisted living, rehabilitation services, senior housing and the Hebrew Home, its internationally recognized nursing home.