Shalom Life | October 11, 2014

Hilarious Israeli Comedy Troupe, Tziporela, Heads Off-Broadway

The innovative 9-member comedy ensemble has snagged a five-week run in New York

By: Daniel Koren

Published: October 1st, 2014 in Culture » Stage » News

In July of 2013, I learned of an innovative, and hilarious, theater troupe that 'weaves together movement, music and slapstick'.

They call themselves Tziporela.

Curious, I discovered that, although the group was particularly buzzing at the time, I was actually quite late to the party, as the 9-member ensemble - all of whom are graduates of the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio - had actually been together for nearly a decade, staging shows in their native tongue, Hebrew (with bits of Russian), before they ventured into English-speaking waters.

"With Tziporela, we have invented a new kind of theater experience, and that is our innovation," Gal Friedman, a founding member, then told me. "Through Tziporela, we offer comedy, art, drama, satire, dance, slapstick and much more, but what's different about us is that we offer it in one show. You will never find this kind of show anywhere else."

And while in 2013 he was right - you'd only find the show in Israel - in 2014, it's a whole other ball park for Tziporela: the Tel Aviv-based comedy troupe, on the brink of their ten year anniversary, are heading to New York for a 5-week off-Broadway stint they're calling 'Odd Birdz'.

Starts on October 14th at the Player’s Theater, and will run through November 19th.


Enthused about the group's success (as I have had the pleasure of seeing them live myself - twice - and am a genuine fan), I reached out to Friedman yet again to fill me in on what's transpired for them since we last spoke.

"We actually made a few very big achievements," Freidman tells me. "We worked very hard on the show last year, and have prepared ourselves for the New York tour - I myself visited New York twice to get the ball rolling. I think that our show tested very well in Milan, and we're looking forward to bringing that energy to New York."

For Tziporela, Friedman says, the New York tour, which they've been organizing and working on for the past 2.5 years, is a way to captivate new audiences, particularly in the U.S. "We have two goals: one is that people will come and see the show, both locals and tourists. The second is to get another five-week stint."

Friedman also explains the reasoning for calling the off-Broadway run "Odd Birdz".

"The name 'Tziporela' in Hebrew doesn't exist," says Friedman. "Tzipor of course is a bird, but Tziporela is something we invented. Of course, it's the name of our group, but we wanted a name that Americans would understand. There is a bird in our logo, which for Israelis creates something in their minds and imaginations. But for Americans, seeing this bird doesn't do anything, and 'Tziporela' is already hard enough to pronounce. So with all this in mind, we settled on another name that will help people understand the visuals, and understand where we're coming from."

For those of you who have seen Tziporela perform in Israel, be prepared for the troupe's colorful brand of witty anecdotes, topical sketches, and hilarious jokes, but catered to an American audience. "One of the most important factors for us is localization, and making adjustments that cater to the viewers," says Friedman. "For example, in Milan we made changes to our show that was appealing to Italians. For New York, we'll do the same. What makes us so unique, I believe, is that the humor can change depending on the city we're playing in."


But of course, regardless of what city they're playing in, the show's loyal Israeli followers are often there to support the troupe.

"The funny thing is, Israel is such a small country, but everywhere you go, you find Israelis. People love to joke about Israelis, their behavior, culture, etc. But while we may be small, we've actually created a lot of interesting things in this world," Friedman says with pride.

We sure have. And Tziporela is definitely one of them.

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