Anna Zicer radiates American warmth, yet she gestures like a hard-nosed Israeli. She’s just 25, yet her credentials suggest someone much older. She has barely a trace of an accent, yet she maintains deep familiarity with the Russian-Jewish community.
If she’s an enigma, Zicer likes it that way. She’s a professional actress, after all, involved in launching Folksbiene RU, a Russian offshoot of The National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene. Its key project is a new avant-garde theater troupe, Lost and Found, which Zicer founded and directs. The troupe is composed of young actors who either emigrated from the Soviet Union or were born to Russian-speaking parents in the U.S.
Zicer spent her childhood moving back and forth between Israel and Russia, following her parents’ jobs. Her father, a theater director and a forerunner in the field of informal arts education, is an inspiration.
Intrigued by questions of identity, Zicer recalled “not being Israeli enough in Israel, not being Russian enough in Russia.” She said, “All of these experiences led to where I am today, conducting an identity search, trying to engage people using artistic tools to see why they are the way they are.”
With her guidance, the actors wrote the troupe’s second production, “Covers,” which, like the first show, is entirely in English. Debuting in May in New York, “Covers” explores the masks that Russian American Jews wear as they shift among different roles. It is meant to be a learning experience for the actors as well as the audience.
Lost and Found toured Boston last winter, and has invitations to perform in Detroit, Berlin and Toronto. Said Zicer: “We saw that this niche is free for us and we gladly took it.”
Sweetheart: Lady Macbeth was the most difficult role that Zicer has ever played. “It was difficult because of the amount of anger and cruelty involved, which I don’t have as a person.”