The American Emperor online


From May 28–31 on Zoom, the festival will offer live online readings of contemporary plays penned by award-winning European playwrights

from Hungary, Slovakia and Poland who explore current social and political issues in their quest for truth. Seasoned New York City–based actors will perform the three readings. A moderated discussion with prominent translators of Vaclav Havel’s plays will accompany the online events.


The American Emperor

What does it mean to leave everything behind for a better future? In a desperate search for a new life, the poorest fall prey to unscrupulous exploitation. The American Emperor centers on the migration of Jews from the poorest region of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Galicia, during the late 19th century. It follows the story of impoverished siblings Mendel and Rifke Beck as the promise of a better life in America looms large. While Mendel leaves for the New World, Rifke stays behind and moves up from her domestic role into one of a leader. 

The American Emperor (2018). Written by: Michal Ditte (Slovakia), based on a book by Martin Pollack. Director: Jacquelyn Claire de Villiers. Cast: Elizabeth Andrews (Rifke), Michaela Boruta (Slovak Name Litany), Jennette Cronk (Bertha Pappenheim, Trade Unionist), Michael Frishman (Mendel), Zane Gillion (Anti-Semite, Octopus, Boss, Galician), Pierre Louis le Grange (Mathias Komara, Galician), Megan Metrikin (Legend, Statue of Liberty, Galician), Caren Skibell (Translator, Receptionist, Galician), Drew Valins (John Doe, Workman). Translated by: Lucia Faltin. Stage directions: Megan Metrikin. Zoom background design: Anna Niklova. Dialect coach: Michaela Boruta. Running time: 90 min.

The play is based on the book Kaiser von Amerika: Die große Flucht aus Galizien (Emperor of America: The Big Escape from Galicia) (2010) by Austrian journalist and award-winning writer Martin Pollack. The publication focuses on the 1880s exodus of Galician Jews from the poor and increasingly anti-Semitic eastern stretches of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (present-day southeastern Poland and western Ukraine). Peasants, craftsman and other departers had to endure various struggles along their journey to the promised land. They became vulnerable to dishonest smuggler gangs, speculators, customs agents and fraudsters of all kinds. Michal Ditte’s adaptation builds on the book’s facts, events, newspaper articles and the fate of a real person, Mendel Beck. Ditte’s story about the past bears a striking resemblance to the ongoing anguishes of migrants today. 

The American Emperor (2018) received the 2018 DOSKY Award of the Slovak Association of Contemporary Theater for best production. 

The performance is followed by Q&A. It is free and open to the public.

This event will be broadcasted online, live on Zoom. RSVP is required to receive password for free viewing:

The American Emperor (2018). Written by: Michal Ditte (Slovakia), based on a book by Martin Pollack. Director: Jacquelyn Claire de Villiers. Cast: Elizabeth Andrews (Rifke), Michaela Boruta (Slovak Name Litany), Jennette Cronk (Bertha Pappenheim, Trade Unionist), Michael Frishman (Mendel), Zane Gillion (Anti-Semite, Octopus, Boss, Galician), Pierre Louis le Grange (Mathias Komara, Galician), Megan Metrikin (Legend, Statue of Liberty, Galician), Caren Skibell (Translator, Receptionist, Galician), Drew Valins (John Doe, Workman). Translated by: Lucia Faltin. Stage directions: Megan Metrikin. Zoom background design: Anna Niklova. Dialect coach: Michaela Boruta. Running time: 90 min.