A new musical by Dan Fishback
Directed by Stephen Brackett

Humorless twelve-year-old revolutionary Gittel Fenster wants to destroy capitalism, and there's only one person who can help her: Madonna. Set in a boarding house in 1921, "The Material World" features an anachronistic cast of neurotic Jews, all trying to save the world. While young Gittel studies Marxism to prepare for global socialist revolt, gay nerd Ian Fleishman tests the revolutionary power of Facebook, and Madonna, the Queen of Pop herself, meditates on secret Kabbalistic codes to fix a broken universe. The characters grapple with their lofty ambitions and reckon with their capacity for failure, to an outrageous, eclectic score of electro dance pop, bouncy folk, touching ballads, preposterous klezmer and classic Tin Pan Alley. As the ridiculous tenants of "The Material World" sing out their anxieties, they speak to our boldest dreams and tiniest goals, and tell a bittersweet story about the the history and future of Jewish radicalism in America. The second installment of “The Material World Trilogy,” and a sequel to Fishback's erotic Chanukah comedy "You Will Experience Silence," this completely unique musical was the surprise hit of the 2012 HOT Festival at Dixon Place, extending its sold-out, critically acclaimed run three times, and returning for a sold-out series of concerts at Joe's Pub in 2013. Dan Fishback is currently developing the final installment in this series of plays.

In a better, smarter world, perhaps, thoughtful musicals like this one would be on Broadway instead of Spider-Man"
- The Village Voice

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Cast and Creative Team

All productions of "The Material World" have been music directed by Dane Terry and accompanied by Dane Terry & Lior Ben-Abu Hadar, and have featured pre-recorded tracks produced by Casey Holford and Matt Katz.

The Dixon Place Production in 2012 starred:
Lisa Clair, Cole Escola, Amy Gironda, Molly Pope, Eleanor Reissa, Leo Schaf and Megan Stern

The Joe's Pub Production in 2013 starred:
Lisa Clair, Erin Markey, Molly Pope, Eleanor Reissa, Jed Resnick, Sarah Stiles and Joe Urla

A Private Workshop at La MaMa in 2014 starred:
Lisa Clair, Natalie Joy Johnson, Molly Pope, Eleanor Reissa, Jed Resnick, Sarah Stiles and Chip Zien

Production History

The 2012 production of "The Material World" was co-produced by Dixon Place, BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange and Matthew Keesan.

"The Material World" was developed through the BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange Artist in Residence Program, which is supported by The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), The New York State Council on the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, The New York Community Trust, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

"The Material World" was commissioned and first presented by Dixon Place with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and with private funds from the Jerome Foundation and The Peg Santvoord Foundation.

That production received additional support from the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics.

The 2014 concert version of "The Material World" was presented as part of the Queer New York International Arts Festival.


DAN FISHBACK (Music, Lyrics, Book): Dan Fishback has been making theater and music in New York City since 2003. Major works include "The Material World" (2012), "thirtynothing" (2011) and "You Will Experience Silence" (2009). As a singer-songwriter, Fishback has released five albums, both solo and with his band Cheese On Bread, with whom he has toured Europe and North America. As director of the Helix Queer Performance Network, he organizes public events, teaches workshops, and curates various performance festivals. He has received grants from the Franklin Furnace Fund, the Doris Duke Charitable Trust and the Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists, and has been a resident artist at Kelly Writers House, the Hemispheric Institute of Performance & Politics, BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Dixon Place, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center. Find him at @dangerfishback and

STEPHEN BRACKETT (Director): With Dan Fishback: "The Material World" (Dixon Place/Joe’s Pub), "thirtynothing" (Dixon Place), "You Will Experience Silence" (Dixon Place). NYC credits include: Jonathan Tolins’ "Buyer & Cellar" (Rattlestick and Barrow Street Theaters/National Tour), Anton Dudley’s "City Of" (Playwrights Realm), Lucas Kavner’s "Carnival Kids" (Lesser America), "Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief" (Theatreworks USA), Ken Urban’s "The Correspondent" (Rattlestick), Micheline Auger’s "American River" (Lesser America), Bekah Brunstetter’s "Nothing is the End of the World" (Waterwell/PPAS), Chad Beckim’s "After" (Partial Comfort), Brunstetter’s "Be A Good Little Widow" (Ars Nova), "The Tenant" (Woodshed Collective), Rick Viede’s "Whore" (Summer Play Festival) and Bixby Elliot’s "PN1923.45LS01 Volume 2" (Culture Project). Regional credits include: David West Read’s "The Great Pretender" (TheatreWorks) and "Kilroy Was Here: A Styx Rock Opera" (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Stephen is a company member of Lesser America and Partial Comfort, and an alumnus of the Soho Rep Lab.