Written and Performed by Romy Nordlinger
Produced by Pat Addiss
Directed by Cailín Heffernan
PLACES! is a critically acclaimed multimedia solo showtelling the story of the greatest star you’ve never heard of: Alla Nazimova, the forgotten trailblazing iconoclast. A Jewish immigrant who escaped Tsarist Russia, she became a Broadway legend, the highest paid silent movie star in Tinseltown, and the first female director/producer/writer in Hollywood. Unapologetic about her bisexuality she coined the infamous “sewing circle”, proclaiming her strength when women were relegated to silence. She defied the moral and artistic codes of her time that eventually forced her into obscurity, “silenced under the smoldering rubble of forgotten history”.
The evocative black and white video and sweeping original score envelop the performer in a live silent film. The immersive landscape illuminates her journey from turn of the century Russia to New York and Hollywood in the 1920’s, including her infamous Garden of Allah.
Nazimova returns from her grave, her uncompromising voice and ever-watchful eye casting a gaze that speaks to where we have been, how far we’ve come, and what we need to hold onto as we work for progress. “By opening our eyes to the past, we are better able to see our present”.
Homophobia, sexism, racism, antisemitism, ageism: Nazimova was fighting these contemporary struggles back in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, but alone and without a Twitter account. Raising her voice and loving America “as only an immigrant can”. The importance of tolerance in society cannot be emphasized enough. Now more than ever, theatre has an important role to give voice to tolerance, celebrate diversity, and take back our collective herstory. We are all the stories we tell. As Nazimova said, “an artist is only dead when the last person to remember them dies”. PLACES!is a clarion call reminding us that individually we can make a difference and we all have a story to tell. Through art and in life, can make beautiful things in dark times. “As we silently, separately scratch shadows onto walls that are trying to divide us, closing in on us, once again. Break. Them. Down.”
PLACES! has been presented in the curated programs of HERE Theater, the Players Club, Dixon Place, 59E59, and the Edinburgh Fringe. In September 2019 it was presented at the Kennedy Center in association with Tonic Theatre Company. Most recently it is being produced by three-time Tony award winner Pat Addiss who will continue with the show’s life.
We plan to partner with the Eastman Museum to present the first public showing of a restored digital print of Nazimova’s film “Stronger than death” in rep with the play here in NYC, across the country, and internationally in the “Stronger Than Death Tour”. Our hopes are to reach as many diverse audiences as possible including universities, community centers, museums and landmark turn of the century theatres and movie houses.
PLACES!runs 75 minutes. The show can be performed without any multimedia and can be adapted to any space.