L.A. Theatre Works presents the world premiere of “Exodus: The Shanghai Jews,” an original, commissioned audio docudrama by Kate McAll.

Each of four performances will be recorded live in front of an audience for future radio broadcast, digital download and online streaming June 23 through June 25 at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater.

Directed by LATW senior producer Anna Lyse Erikson, the distinguished cast includes L.A. Theatre Works veterans Edita Brychta (“Daniel Deronda,” “Oslo,” “The Murder on the Links” and “The Confession of Henry Jekyll, MD”); Shannon Cochran (“August: Osage County,” “End Days,” “The Rivalry,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers”); Arye Gross (“M. Butterfly,” “The Idiot,” “The Brothers Karamazov,” “Julius Caesar,” “Crimes of the Heart”); Anna Mathias (“Bump,” “The Goodbye Girl,” “Act One,” “Cyrano de Bergerac”); Raphael Sbarge (“Awake and Sing,” “Incident at Vichy,” “Cakewalk,” “The Heidi Chronicles”); Alan Shearman (“Racing Demon,” “An Enemy of the People,” “The Life of Galileo”); André Sogliuzzo (“For Us All,” “The Sun Also Rises,” “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern,” “Twelfth Night,” “Pressure”); and Joanne Whalley (“Extinction,” “The Little Foxes,” “Macbeth,” “Look Back in Anger,” “The Real Thing”).

In “Exodus: The Shanghai Jews,” audiences will hear eight Jewish refugees recount their true stories of escaping Nazi persecution to settle in the last place they could ever have imagined — Shanghai, China.

“Forty years ago, Steven Hochstadt tracked down and taped interviews with over 100 elderly Jews who had something in common: they had all evaded the Nazi death camps by escaping to the one country in the world whose doors were wide open to them,” says McAll. “That safe haven was not the United States, which had such strict rules for entry that most refugees had no hope of passing the test. Nor was it the United Kingdom. The Brits only wanted to help refugees who were unlikely to threaten British jobs, or who could fill specific shortages. No, the place that opened its arms freely was China.”

Unlike his fellow diplomats, Feng-Shan Ho, the Chinese consul general in Vienna, issued visas to everyone who requested one, even to those wishing to travel elsewhere but needing a visa to leave Nazi Germany. As a result, about 20,000 Jews settled in Shanghai between 1938 and 1941. There, they established synagogues and businesses, living side-by-side with their new Chinese neighbors under harsh conditions during the Japanese occupation.

“These eight personal narratives give us a glimpse into a fascinating, little-known piece of history,” says Erikson. “Each story is a tale of tragedy and triumph.”

L.A. Theatre Works stands apart in its approach to making great theater widely accessible and affordable, bringing plays into homes and classrooms of millions of theater lovers, teachers and students each year. The company’s syndicated audio theater series broadcasts weekly on public radio stations across the U.S. (locally, in Southern California, on KPFK 90.7 FM); can be downloaded as a podcast via iTunes, NPR One, or wherever you get your podcasts; and can be streamed on demand at http://latw.org.

The L.A. Theatre Works catalog of over 600 recorded plays is the largest archive of its kind in the world, featuring classics by William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Henrik Ibsen and Lillian Hellman, as well as new works by Lynn Nottage, Charlayne Woodard and Jeanne Sakata, to name a few. Audiofile magazine calls L.A. Theatre Works productions “the gold standard for fine audio theater recordings.”

Performances of “Exodus: The Shanghai Jews” take place on Friday, June 23, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, June 24, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, June 25, at 4 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $65.

The James Bridges Theater is located in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, 235 Charles E. Young Dr., Los Angeles.

For more information and to purchase tickets, call (310) 827-0889 or go to http://latw.org.

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