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Interview: Brandon Uranowitz’s Personal Journey to Leopoldstadt

Theatre Mania

Leopoldstadt is Tom Stoppard’s most personal play. But the story isn’t just close to him; it’s close to his cast, as well. In particular, Brandon Uranowitz, who is currently Tony nominated for his dual roles in the decades-spanning drama, recognizes a lot of his own family history involved, as well. Here, Uranowitz tells us about the extra special experience.

Knowing your work, I was surprised when I found out that the Outer Critics Circle Award you just won for Leopoldstadt was your first award ever.
Yeah. I mean, it’s nice to hear that it’s surprising people. [laughs] That was surprising to a lot of folks, and I was like, “No, literally never.” Just the perennial bridesmaid. There’s been something really useful for me, I think, as an artist, to be in the conversation but not a winner necessarily. It’s helped me feel like I’m part of something bigger. I don’t know. I’ve gotten used to not winning things and it makes the process a lot more joyful, because it’s not really about that. It’s about the community getting together and saying, “This is what we think to be the best work of the season.” To be included in that conversation is all that I need to feel like I’m doing my job. I don’t need to be, quote-unquote, the best. But it’s also nice to win. I’m just very grateful to be part of it in any way.

Leopoldstadt is a very personal play for Stoppard – it’s based somewhat on his family history. As a Jewish actor yourself, does your background relate?
My mom’s side of the family came over many years ago from Russia, but the most present tether to the Jewish experience that I had growing up was the Holocaust, because some of my dad’s side of the family escaped just in time, and some of them didn’t make it. We had one survivor come over, my great aunt, and she was the only living survivor who went through the entire experience. She survived the camps and lost her whole family, her husband, her son. And she came over and had a tiny little bungalow and we would go multiple times a year to visit her, and there was no visit that was not, in some way, inclusive of a conversation about her experience. So this play is just very deep. It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than Tom. It’s bigger than any one of us. It’s a deeply personal obligation that I have to my own family...READ MORE

Author: David Gordon


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