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Bella's Dream

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Jessica Ammirati and Dana Boll
May 21, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Producer/Director and Playwright/Choreographer.

What is your show about?
In 1939 Poland, a newlywed Jewish couple flee from their home, starting a journey that takes them thousands of miles, from Siberia to the deserts of Uzbekistan; a play with dance, this true-life survival tale is set in and juxtaposed by scenes in a modern supermarket.

What do you do when you’re not working on a play?
Jessica: When I’m not working on theatre I’m a doula, a non-medical birth assistant. It’s an equally dramatic experience. Similar to theatre, my birth work can be physically taxing, requires me to think on my feet, and encompasses huge swings of emotions as each new baby enters the world. When Dana’s not working on theatre, she’s an arts administrator, crusading to help bring other people’s artistic work into the world.

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this spring that...?
you’ll meet an Eskimo, a Gypsy, a Neo-Nazi, and a Used Car Salesman in a Florida Winn-Dixie, not to mention a movement chorus of modern dancers.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
Dana: As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors who were open with their story, it was important that I find a way to share it. Bella’s Dream tells one small part of the history of WWII—an account of the lesser-known tale of the tens of thousands of refugees in Siberia and Central Asia during one of the largest population displacements in history. The landscape of the story lends itself to movement and multimedia. Dance is integrated throughout, and we’re fortunate to have access to historical footage from pre-war Gombin, Poland, which was my grandparents’ home. As a director and co-producer of primarily female-driven works, Jessica Ammirati was a natural choice as a director and co-creator. We’ve been working together for years, and as a first-time playwright, it’s reassuring to see how elegantly she orchestrates our army of collaborators, of which we have over 20!

Which mythical character would like your show the best: Cyclops, Cupid, Paul Bunyan or the Easter Bunny?
Cupid! At it's core, this is a story about a young couple, very much in love, embarking on a journey into the unknown together.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Yes. We need to believe that! Living, breathing people collaborating to create an experience, share a story, an unpopular perspective, a truth – it all contributes to the wider cultural conversation, and has the potential to spark changes. This work explores memory, family history, the transmission of trauma, dreams, and the actions of ordinary people in times of war.