You Will Not Play Wagner

A New Film Produced by JArts

JArts Theatreworks Group Presents: You Will Not Play Wagner

In Memory of Playwright Victor Gordon

Run Time: 64 minutes

Watch The Official Trailer for You Will Not Play Wagner

Performing Wagner has been unofficially banned in Israel since the creation of the state because he was a cultural touchstone of Nazism. But could Wagner’s music transcend the anti-Semitic views of its creator?

When Ya’akov, an Israeli conductor, announces he will play Wagner in the finals of the Esther Greenbaum International Conductors’ Competition, Esther, a Holocost survivor, must face a moral dilemma: whether the trauma of the past justifies stifling the future of young talent.

Buried memories, nightmarish dreams uncovered — Ya’akov and Esther, aided by Morris, the competition organizer, viscerally argue their opposing points of view from Tel-Aviv, the Berkshires, and Brooklyn. Across the COVID-plagued world and across historical, ethical, and personal domains, will they be able to hear each other?

Starring Annette Miller, Ofek Cohen, and Avi Hoffman.

You Will Not Play Wagner is an original piece by JArts TheaterWorks, commissioned by JArts and created in partnership with the Forward and the Consulate General of Israel to New England.

Starring

Annette Miller has performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in regional theaters, and on Film and TV. She was acclaimed by The Wall Street Journal as Best Actor of the Season in regional theater for her performance as Gladys Green in Waverly Gallery and as Vera in 4000 Miles. She received the 2018 Berkshire Theater Critic’s Association Award for Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role for her portrayal of Katherine in Mothers and Sons. Annette originated the role of Golda Meir in Golda’s Balcony at Shakespeare and Company before it went to Broadway for which she received both Boston’s Elliot Norton Best Actor Award and the Independent Reviewers of New England Best Actor Award. She also received the Carbonell Best Actor Award nomination for her portrayal of Vi in August Osage County . Catch her in the hit 2021 Netflix film,  Don’t Look Up,  with Leonardo DiCaprio. 

Avi Hoffman was recently awarded Congressional recognition, was invited to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis and was inducted into the Bronx Jewish Hall of Fame. As an actor, he was nominated for a NY Drama Desk Award for his Yiddish language portrayal of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, but is best known for his award winning one man shows Too Jewish, Too Jewish, Too! and his latest show Still Jewish After All These Years. He’s been featured numerous times on television, has performed all over the world, has numerous acting and directing credits and has received multiple awards and nominations.

Ofek Cohen graduated from the Acting School at the Institute of the Education for the National Union of the Kibbutzim in 2017. Currently acting in the adaptation of The Untouchables the Cameri Theater in Tel-Aviv. Cinema credits: The Swimmer, 2021. T.V. credits: Yes in Get through the Night  and Kan in  Main Cashier,  both 2020; short film credits: Amir and Alis, 2019 and Wild Weeds, 2018.

Director

You Will Not Play Wagner is directed by Lilia Levitina.

Lilia Levitina, a director, actress, producer, and writer, immigrated to the Boston area from the former Soviet Union in 1988. She brought with her a rich Russian theatrical tradition and a dream to do theater professionally. While working as a teacher by day, she founded a theater company— Basement on the Hill Stage— by night. What started in the basement of her house burst onto the Boston theater scene with acclaimed productions such as The Shawl and A Life in the Theater by David Mamet, The Promise by Aleksei Arbuzov, The Language of Kisses by Edmund de Santis, The Fox by Allan Miller, and others. Marking her 30 years in the US, Lilia conceived, produced, and performed a one-woman show, From the Gray Notebook. Through memoir, poetry, and striking imagery, The Gray Notebook chronicles the journey of her generation of Jewish Russian immigrants across continents, languages, and cultures. 

You Will Not Play Wagner is Lilia’s first movie. 

Additional Credits

Executive Producer

Jewish Arts Collaborative

Producers

Ernest Aranov

Norman Lang

Rick Macomber

Annette Miller

Christo Tsiaras

Playwright

Victor Gordon

Screen Adaptation

Anna Ampleeva

Lilia Levitina

Editor

Christo Tsiaras

You Will Not Play Wagner in the Press

‘You Will Not Play Wagner’ Sparks Complicated Feelings About Acknowledging Art” – JewishBoston.com

“Arts Feature: Favorite Stage Productions of 2021” – Arts Fuse

“[You Will Not Play Wagner is] thought-provoking and compels us to think from different perspective.” – Wayne Firestone, Executive Director of America Israel Friendship League

An Interview with Director Lilia Levitina


Lilia, how did you learn about You Will Not Play Wagner?

“It all started on a December afternoon in my driveway. I was serving traditional latkes in a non-traditional, COVID-19-sensitive style to my friends, Michael and Annette Miller. Annette said to me, ‘I have a play, and I want you to direct it.’ This is how I learned about South-African playwright Victor Gordon and his play, You Will Not Play Wagner. Fast forward four months, and what had started as a Zoom theatre idea had evolved into a full-fledged film!”


Tell us more about this evolution and who is helping to create this vision.

“The play itself had been turned into a script after multiple back-and-fourth drafts between Boston and Pretoria. Then Avi Hoffman came on board to play the role of an ultimate deal-breaker. Director of Photography Rick Macomber, a two-time winner of the prestigious Emmy Award, filmed Annette Miller in Lennox, MA as she played Esther, a Holocaust survivor and patron of the prestigious conductors’ competition (held virtually this memorable [2021] year!). Roland Novitsky, an Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC) cameraman, filmed Ofek Cohen in Tel Aviv as he played Ya’akov, an Israeli conductor who makes it to the final stage of the contest. The Hatch, Emmy, Telly’s and Monitor award-winning editor Christo Tsiaras ultimately put it all together.”


Are there certain themes or questions this production is asking?

“Who and what defines the Israeli narrative— its national myth? To what degree does the trauma of the past hold a grip on the present? Is moving on and into the future even possible without accommodating the past? Could two irreconcilable positions be reconciled? To put it simply: is it possible for two people who passionately believe in their respective, singular truths to hear each other?”

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TheatreWorks is a curated group of creative professionals, theater experts, and community organizers who work to broaden and enhance the scope and creative capacity of JArts theatre-based programming.

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