A stylized black and white pen and ink line drawing of a dreary 1978 Soviet Union residential neighborhood with 19th century Moscow architecture. In front of one of the buildings, a determined man, Yuri Alexandrov, stands defiantly facing a menacing KGB handler. The atmosphere is ominous, reflecting the oppressive environment and high stakes of their struggle.
ADAMS, MA—The Adams Theater presents a staged reading of the new play "The Refuseniks," written by Alison Bendix and directed by Tony Simotes. Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, August 9, and Saturday, August 10, and at noon on Sunday, August 11

Adams Theater Presents A Staged Reading of “The Refuseniks” by Alison Bendix, directed by Tony Simotes.

A universal tale of courage in the face of authoritarianism and police brutality
July 9, 2024

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ADAMS, Mass. — The Adams Theater is bringing a staged reading of the new play “The Refuseniks” to audiences at 7:30 p.m. on Friday August 9 and Saturday August 10, and at noon on Sunday, August 11.

Tickets can be reserved at www.adamstheater.org/present or by calling 888.401.5022.

Written by Alison Bendix and directed by Tony Simotes, formerly Artistic Director at Shakespeare & Company, the play chronicles the struggle of a set of unlikely roommates in a six-family communal apartment in the Soviet Union, circa 1978. A world-class physicist turned heroic freedom-activist leader, Yuri Alexandrov, battles the Soviet regime and his devious KGB handler in his quest for exit visas for Jewish dissidents to emigrate from Russia. He endangers his family and followers as his bold, courageous scheme leads him to an agonizing choice that causes him to face life imprisonment and death.

The play is the only dramatized story of the real Refuseniks, Russian Jews who were refused exit visas in the face of anti-semitism promoted by the Soviet government as a diversion from the country’s problems. Synagogues were closed and Jewish culture was suppressed, and Refusenik leaders were sentenced to long prison terms on bogus charges to dissuade others from following their path. 

Playwright Alison Bendix is a descendant of the Bendix family of old Broadway. She studied theater at Boston University. Ms. Bendix has been a ballet dancer, the author of bestselling books, and a nonprofit executive.

The Refuseniks was one of 25 plays presented at the Road Theatre, North Hollywood’s prestigious 2023 festival. The festival is one of the largest staged reading events in the nation, with playwrights from across the country and around the world submitting entries..

Bendix’s play has attracted a great team of Berkshire collaborators to stage this reading at the Adams Theater.  

Tony Simotes is a former resident of the Berkshires who has worked on productions for many of the major theaters of the region. A Founding Member and former Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company, he has been seen on stage and as a leader in this community since 1978. He holds an MFA from the acclaimed NYU Tisch School of Arts and was Director of Theatre at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he was a full professor. He’s directed, acted and has taught internationally from Australia to Bulgaria as well as from the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles to the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Public Theatre. Mr. Simotes has appeared in many major films and television projects. He was proud to walk the Red Carpet for his starring role in “Bronx Cheers,” nominated for Best Live Action Short. He’s been involved in helping to support new work and has helped produce many playwrights who had their first reads and productions under his guidance. He’s excited and happy to return to the Berkshires and to the Adams Theater to present this expanded staged reading of Alison Bendix’s new play.

Rocco Sisto, a three-time Obie award winning actor leads a talented cast of veteran Berkshire artists. Mr. Sisto plays Yuri, a scientist and social activist. Annette Miller, a literal legend of the stage, plays the matriarch of this Jewish family, Yuri’s mother Olga. Alex Sovronsky adds his musical brilliance and dynamic acting skills as Viktor, a neighbor and friend to Yuri. His wife, Riva, is played by Berkshire newcomer Taube Brahms, an exciting young New York talent. Elliot Trainor, a local professional actor, will play Ari, son to Yuri and Leya. 

Every story of struggle still needs romance, and two young comrades played by Caroline Calkins, Natalya, and Greg Boover, Sergei, discover that even political opposites can find their way to love. Ryan Winkles and Jon Croy, who have enchanted audiences with their humor and physical comedy, as well as their abilities to play the antagonists, are our Russian Authority figures represented in the KGB and Soviet Militias. 

Lynn Silver, a multi-talented actor, playwright, and producer, plays Leya, the power behind and alongside her husband and ex, Yuri. Her journey is the most complex and heartbreaking of all. Leya must struggle with being a mother, doctor and ex-wife to her charismatic husband. 

Reserve your tickets at www.adamstheater.org/present. Full season details are listed below.

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