The Only Constant in Life Is Change.- Heraclitus

After 7 colorful years at the 14th Street Y, the final 3 of which I had the tremendous honor of directing the LABA Fellowship, it is time to say adieu. Like in any job, it takes some time to settle in, figure things out, and then utilize your ever-evolving skill sets. The 14Y was unique in providing new opportunities and experiences around every hallway. When I went to my first LABA session a few months after starting, I fell in love. It was warm, intoxicating, intellectually stimulating and exciting. I wanted more of it. Every session, and then extension session across the street with more libations, left me hungry and intrigued and quite frankly, happy. It’s not to say the text didn’t scare or anger me, but the process of study, the time, the engagement with artists, was something wholly divine. When I got the opportunity to be a staff fellow and share a deeply personal work, and then to lead LABA in 2019, it was a thrill. Combining my background in comedy with LABA made for a most exciting first year with LABA Humor and #NastyWomen shows. And then it all came to a screeching halt with Covid. To reference the Heraclitus quote, we pivoted.

When I think of the two most significant moments of LABA during my tenure as Director, they are the herculean effort led by LABA Humor Fellow Mark Katz, technically executed by the extremely talented Kryssy Wright, and including the whole amazing LABA Humor cohort, to create The Jewnight Show: Pandemic Passover live on Facebook, and the first in-person gathering in the Theater at the 14Y of the fabulous LABA Chosen Fellows. In the first instance, we stepped into the unknown and created a memorable show and in the second, we stepped out of the isolation and into the new unknown coming together in person in community.

I want to thank Ronit Muszkatblit for being an incredible mentor, terrific friend, and impassioned leader of LABA, and now LABA Global. I want to thank Ruby Namdar for making text study be so enticing, for being a wonderful partner, and a dear friend. I want to thank all of the fellows from the cohorts I directed for your patience, candor, creativity, and warmth. And I want to both thank and congratulate Chanan Ben Simon for being a superb LABA Broken Fellow and taking the torch to now lead LABA NY. I have no doubt you will do an amazing job and the Fellows will be all the better for being connected to you and under your thoughtful guidance.

To quote Kiekegaard, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

With that, I thank you all for your wisdom, support, friendship, art, and providing a beautiful community to grow in. לחיי לבה LABA!

Please do stay in touch by email [email protected], or social media – IG @labewene

-Laura Beatrix Newmark