Category Archives: Featured Slideshow

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Special Thanks to PAAA-Polish American Arts Association!

LADY, A One Woman Show based on Macbeth comes to life!

Ambassador Theater and Theatre Institute in Warsaw Presents


Based on Macbeth By W. Shakespeare

Artistic Concept, Direction and Presentation by HANNA BONDAREWSKA


Costumes by AGATA UCHMAN






Lady – a one-woman show, inspired by the character of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth – seeks answers to a number of profound questions. Who is the Modern Woman? To what extent is our behavior guided by gender stereotypes, and to what degree by our character and primordial traits? How do Shakespearean archetypes influence our thinking and actions today? What is the price we are prepared to pay for power and success? Is there a way to help us cope with the temptations, suffering and chaos of today’s world?

The artist’s interpretation of William Shakespeare’s text reaches beyond modernization of Shakespeare’s timeless messages. Apart from presenting a study of power, passion and revenge, it takes us into the realm of female archetypes and its primordial aspects, from the protective to the murderous. Led by Hekate, the incarnation of the Witch – the forgotten Mother’s archetype – the spectators take part in a magical ritual, where messages and mantras are delivered to the sounds of gongs, rattles and sublime music of Andrzej Satanowski. Will the artist succeed in making us believe that we have the power to change the world? Will she give us hope? Will she change the course of Lady Macbeth’s destiny?






Ambassador Theater presents DC Premiere of
Smartphones, A Pocket-Size Farce by Emilio Williams​
Directed by Joe Banno​
with Ariana Almajan, Tekle Ghebremeschel​, Moriah Elizabeth Whiteman​, Shravan Amin​ and Hanna Bondarewska​
At FLASHPOINT, 916 G Street, NW, Washington DC
OCT 20 – NOV 15, 2015
THU – SAT at 8 PM
SAT & SUN at 2 PM


Sex, Lies and Nomophobia in Emilio Williams’ Smartphones by Eliza Anna Falk

Smartphones, A Pocket-Size Farce – produced by Hanna Bondarewska and Ambassador Theater in partnership with the Embassy of Spain and Spain arts and Culture, directed by Helen Hayes awarded Joe Banno – opens at Flashpoint on October 22, 2015 TICKETS ONLINE

ElizaFalk_1038x576Doesn’t existence seem totally absurd at times and life too restrictive? Don’t we wish we were free of social norms and do as we like? Aren’t we our own worst enemies at times? Emilio Williams*, the author of Smartphones, asks the same questions yet as a dramatist has the opportunity to dream our dreams and nightmares on stage. In Smartphones, inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, the avant-garde playwright takes his privilege to the absurdist limit. Mixing the Absurd, Ridiculous and the Surreal with a layer of ‘digital madness’, he brings human shadows and insecurities to light, making us reflect on life and to laugh, nervously at times, in the process.  

Emilio Williams is a dramatist who uses his medium like a magnifying glass, bringing into focus complex aspects of our psyche challenged by today’s fast-paced existence. Just like his influences – Beckett, Ludlam, Moliere and Buñuel, he is acutely aware of what is difficult, awkward and absurd in life and chooses to talk about it using humor, farce and parody. “Nothing is more radical than humor” says Williams, whose multi-dimensional plays combine laughter with existential themes and a pertinent social satire. Smartphones, his only play that takes part in one set, one room and in real time, is also a great example of Williams’ reaction against conventions of the Realistic Theater. 

“Your comedies tend to be silly but not stupid” said William’s friend once, and the author liked the comment. In case of Smartphones silly and serious go together. After all the play is a tribute to and a parody of the Theatre of the Absurd, as well as an example of William’s avoidance of literalness of theater realism. Also, true to the Theater of the Ridiculous Manifesto and its canon of ‘the free person’, Smartphones’ personas are free to act in a spontaneous and silly way whilst not compromising seriousness of the matter. “The free person, as distinct from an authoritarian phony or the civilized adult, is erotic, socially self-assertive, playful and imaginative” (Brecht: 117) and so are the play’s characters.

Chantal and Dagobert, Amelia and Barnaby are stuck together in their friend’s house waiting for his arrival. The couples, educated and socially assertive, reveal their true, outrageous colors as the play progresses. Their neurosis, lies and hidden desires come to the surface taking us by surprise and shocking with their boldness, yet feeling strangely familiar or attractive at the same time. How reassuring and cathartic is to see our own shadows and shameful secrets reflected in other people and our faults and obsessions appearing ‘normal’ and symptomatic of the times. After all, aren’t we, the civilized humans, soldiers in the universal battle to maintain balance between primal desires and social norms?

 Smartphones’ characters are in their 30s and 40s and have a lot in common with the Millennial Generation, displaying strong traits of entitlement and narcissism, and suffering from ‘nomophobia’ – short for “no-mobile-phone-phobia”.  Glued to their Smartphones and obsessed with digital communication they make an absurd yet very familiar sight. Seeing their addiction to the virtual world and disconnectedness from the real one, makes us react in the way Williams intended. The characters themselves have flashes of awareness uttering the author’s profound messages, such as when Barnaby says to his college friend Dagobert: "You see, always on Facebook, back and forward, but with each day that passes we know each other less" (Williams:42). 

Whilst the popular saying “we live in a crazy world” certainly rings true in Smartphones justifying the silliness and the laughter, the play’s serious undertones remind us how difficult and complex today’s existence can really be. Digital and other addictions, racism, unemployment, gender/sexual issues, are only some of the current challenges affecting our lives and our conscience. Smartphones is a play at its best, entertaining, current, reflecting on what it is to be human and what it is to be part of the 21st century society. What makes it particularly entertaining is its absurdist form and ‘ridiculous’ characters shocking us with their outrageous behaviors, which for many of us may not seem that outrageous after all.

Williams, Emilio. Smartphones.
Brecht, Stefan. Family of the f. p.: Notes on the Theatre of the Ridiculous 
Source: The Drama Review: TDR, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Autumn, 1968), pp. 117-141
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL: .

About the author
Emilio Williams is an award winning playwright from Madrid, who moved to Chicago in 2011. His avant-garde, profound comedies, such as Your problems with Men, Medea got Some Issues, Tables and Beds, have been produced in Spain, France, Estonia, UK and USA. "Smartphones, a pocket-size farce" received its world premiere at Trap Door Theatre, Chicago on July 19th, 2012 and was directed by Emilio Williams.

HELP ARTISTS TO HELP YOU! – A Message from Prof. Kaz Braun about The Trap

HELP ARTISTS TO HELP YOU! from aticc on Vimeo.


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Ambassador Theater IS Getting Ready for the US Premiere of

The Trap

…anxieties and nightmares of Franz Kafka…

By Tadeusz Różewicz

Translated by Adam Czerniawski

Music By Jerzy Satanowski

Directed By Hanna Bondarewska

Video Direction and Production by Shawn W. Lyles

Graphic Animation by Lukasz Pinkowski




This Year

WE NEED TO RAISE $40,000!  


Seeking Santa

Ambassador Theater Presents the World Premiere of


A Saint Nicholas Comedy Play

By Jeannette Jaquish

Directed By Hanna Bondarewska

Music Director Petko Kolev


 Jacqui Farkas, Elf Hazel  

Hanna Bondarewska, Elf Toffee

 Marlowe Vilchez, Elf Zinger, Mayor, Dictator and Santa

Petko Kolev, Voice and Guitar

Puppets By Julia Tasheva 

Set and Props Design By Anna Klamczynska

Santa is missing and St. Nicholas Day is tomorrow! Elves are panicking. They find a clue and follow it to one place after another, each time encountering characters who tell the elves their problems. The Elves figure out what they really need to solve their problems
themselves. When they get back to the workshop Santa is there with a final gift solution.








Julia Tasheva and Lilia Slavova
Julia Tasheva and Lilia Slavova

Bulgarian Folk Objects Come to Life!

Found object puppetry, dance, and singing workshop


 Age 1-100
40 minutes-45 minutes


The renowned Bulgarian director Lilia Slavova and master puppeteer Julia Tasheva bring their third installment of a series of workshops based on Bulgarian folklore.

Come join Bulgarian artists hand in hand for an amusing trip of imagination and fantasy accompanied by music, dance, and songs. 
Common objects from the near past, with the help of young audience members, will find new life and take us on a journey of Bulgarian folk tradition and culture.A cheerful educational workshop full of music, songs and puppets that invites the young and not so young audiences on stage and introduces them to Bulgarian ethnography and traditions! The workshop employs historic Bulgarian folk items to create unexpected puppets that come to life in the hands of young workshop participants. Traditional singing and dancing will also be featured.

Julia Tasheva is an award-winning master puppeteer and mime artist with professional experience on two continents.
Lilia Slavova is an award-winning director, actress, and acting coach living on both continents.

Both artists received the inaugural Kiril and Metodi Bulgarian Culture Award, amongst numerous other awards and recognitions both as performers and directors.

A cheerful educational workshop full of music, songs and puppets that invites the young and not so young audiences on stage and introduces them to the Bulgarian ethnography and traditions!

Come and join us hand in hand for an amusing trip of imagination and fantasy with the help of Bulgarian Folk Music and everyday objects from the near past .In the hands of skillful Bulgarian artist they will find new life and take us on a journey of the Bulgarian folk tradition and culture.


November 1, 2014 La Maison Francaise, Embassy of France 11-3 PM

November 6, 2014, Hill Center 10:30 AM

November 9, 2014 Reagan International Trade Center 3 PM

Are you ready to Dance – Join the Group of Zharava June 14th in Old Town Alexandria


3:00 PM TORPEDO ARTS CENTER, 105 N Union Street, Alexandria VA

4:30 PM Market Street, in front of the City Hall, Alexandria VA


The Bulgarian folk-dance ensemble Zharava was established in January, 2007. Within its first six months, the group gathered more than 20 enthusiastic members, including natives of Bulgaria, Russia and the U.S. The fire in each member’s heart is implied by the group’s name: Zharava – 'burning embers.'

Zharava's mission is to preserve the rich Bulgarian folk-dance tradition, and to enhance the awareness of Bulgarian folk arts (including dance, music, song and rhythm) throughout the U.S. and the world. The Artistic Director of Zharava is a longtime professional folk dance instructor and choreographer, Desi Jordanoff. The organization aims to advance its mission through performance and participation in dance and music festivals, through delivering training and workshops, through organizing student performances, and through holding recreational dance events. With all these activities, Zharava tries to educate people and create community through the experience of Bulgarian folklore. Zharava workshops include selections from the rich dance styles belonging to all ethnographically defined regions of Bulgaria.

Today, Zharava already has gathered 85 members and continues to attract more new students. 55 members are actively participating in the ensemble’s training classes and their number grows consistently. All current members are organized in three tiers: beginners, intermediate and advanced (performing group). All three groups have been exposed to different levels of difficulty and follow three specific tracks of training to learn the particular dance styles, techniques, and rhythms of individual ethnographic regions of Bulgaria. Zharava’s advanced group consists of a strong core of dancers, who have advanced through vigorous training during the past seven years. These core dancers form the ensembles performing group, which demonstrates the color, rhythm and dance mastery to the community. Part of Zharava’s training incorporates traditional dances from all ethnographic regions of Bulgaria. The curriculum also includes studying authentic folk traditions brought from villages in Bulgaria and workshops in costume design.

During its seven years of existence, Zharava has demonstrated an increasing level of acquired knowledge and skill. It has also garnered great support in the arts and national communities in greater metropolitan Washington, DC. The group delivered more than fifty concerts and presentations at various venues spanning from community, school celebrations and festivals through events and initiatives, the greater Washington, DC metropolitan area, Maryland and Northern Virginia. In addition, the group has participated in multiple presentations on behalf of organizations, such as the Maryland Council for the Arts, Annual Celebration of Cultures held by the World Bank Group; celebrations held by the Bulgarian Community Center and the Bulgarian Music Society of greater Washington, DC; Washington Folklore Society; Ambassador Theater, Washington Revels, and events organized by the Embassy of Bulgaria to name a few.

One of Zharava’s accomplishments is a successful pilot project to establish and develop an affiliate group at the University of Richmond. Founded in the fall of 2007, the dance group in Richmond attracted more than 30 members, including Bulgarian and international students, who continue to express their passion and love for Bulgarian folk dance. As a result of this collaboration today the group in Richmond gathers weekly to further explore the rich Bulgarian folklore dance. One of the most fruitful and successful collaborations Zharava has fostered with the singing group Zunitza founded as an exciting spin off from the dance group members in  Richmond. Today Zharava and Zunitza collaborate on many joint projects and perform together at many venues in Washington, DC metropolitan area.

For seven years ensemble Zharava has developed and fostered solid working relationships with many organizations such as Bulgarian Folk Orchestra “Ljuti Chushki’, Folklore singing groups “Orfeja”, “Slaveja”, “Svitania”, Bulgarian Educational and Cultural Center in Washington, DC, National Catherdral School and individual artists, musicians and singers. In 2007, Zharava’s Artistic Director, Desi Jordanoff created a successful children project at the Bulgarian Educational Center and founded the children dance group Zdravetz. Today, with more than 25 members the group has grown to accommodate a second tier of children attending the Bulgarian Educational Center. Bulgarian Folk Dance group Zdravetz has participated in concerts and presentations with Zharava dance Ensemble at multiple venues such as the Ambassador Theater, The American University, St. Nicholas Church Festival and others.


For Better or for Worse?…

For Better or Worse? – Cristina Colmena’s Look at Love Arithmetic in Happily Ever After

by Eliza Anna Falk
14 February 2014


‘Till death do us part’ – is the dream worth dreaming?

Valentine’s Day is as good a time as any to reflect on love’s complications, especially as the event, by putting a spotlight on happy couples, inadvertently draws attention to those unlucky or disappointed in love. Cynicism around declarations such as’ ‘till death do us part’ is on the increase, especially in the western world where high divorce rates deter many from tying the knot. However, despite love’s tricky nature and significant shifts in sexual and marriage behavior in the last decades, love and relationships continue to be of primary importance to majority of western population. With the desire for romance and companionship comes a wish to know how to attract and keep a ‘perfect match’, a wish so intense it drives us to look for advice promising what’s best for us. A new paradigm of ‘amour’ based on self-love and positive thinking has emerged in recent times, supported by the ancient ’Law of Attraction’ telling us that  ‘we attract what we are’ and that in order to be loved we have to first learn how to love ourselves.

Cristina Colmena’s* compelling dark comedy ‘Happily Ever After’, which has its world premiere on 13th of March at the Flash Point Theatre in DC, delivers a valuable opportunity to reflect on love and its challenges, and to learn from mistakes made by unlucky lovers.  The Ambassador’s Theatre production directed by Hanna Bondarewska, starring Karin Rosnizeck and Doug Krehbel, promises a truly entertaining event with high emotional resonance. The play centers on three male-female scenarios: young lovers destined to part; a promising one night stand which fails to blossom; and keeping appearances after thirty years of marriage. All three relationships are sabotaged by the inability of the characters to act on their true needs due to fear and insecurity, a behavior an average adult can most likely relate to. “These scenes are only snapshots of love stories, or better said, “un-love” stories”, says the author, who also writes, that the characters “could be anyone of us at some moment of our lives: we recognize these people, sometimes they even say the same things that we say.

‘Alliance of two against the world’ or genuine love?

There are various theories explaining why true love is hard to find and why it can go wrong. Many postulate that barriers to happiness stem from people not knowing themselves and not being able to feel and give unconditional love. “Unless you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will think of it as fate” claimed Carl Jung, one of the most prominent psychoanalysts representing a belief that because true human identity is a result of unconscious processes and thoughts, it remains hidden from awareness. Alternative explanations of the phenomenon have been offered by a number of 21st century scholars blaming globalization and corporatization for depriving us of individuality and independence, and thus robbing us of opportunities to find out who we really are. This may explain the growing popularity of the ‘new age’ tools and techniques, such as meditation, yoga and spiritual life-coaching, aiming at revealing our true or higher selves and sorting out the subconscious obstacles blocking the way to genuine and fulfilling relationships.

In his 1956 book ‘The Art of Loving’, a social psychologist and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm postulates that life in a free market economy robs people of their true identity and takes away their ability to see themselves as autonomous beings able to love themselves. When we become ”commodities” in “a well-constructed profit-making machine”, we lose our creativity and self-expression essential for true love and become lonely and insecure, he says. Fromm further claims that such damaged and needy individuals look for love and companionship with another to be able to cope with the daily pressures and loss of ‘self’. As a result, the formed partnerships are only a form of an” alliance of two against the world”, which is mistaken for “love and intimacy”. Such ‘empty’ love often leads to disappointment, emotional and physical infidelity and divorce, despite rewards obtained in exchange for contribution to economic production, such as access to material goods and comfortable lifestyle.

‘Misunderstandings’ – A true love gone wrong?

‘Misunderstandings’, the first act of Colmena’s play, invites us into the lives of a young couple (possibly not yet transformed into ‘commodities’ and hurt by a string of failed relationships), struggling with the end of their union and the hopes of its possible resurrection. While mistakenly waiting to meet in separate cafés they regress to the past presenting us with flashes of highs and lows of their tumultuous passionate union, underpinned by a powerful mysterious bond keeping them together against all odds. Despite their strong attraction and mutual hope to re-unite, the lovers do not reach out to each other and as a result lose out on what could have been a chance to build on their genuine connection and turn it into a fulfilling union. Who said that true love was easy, especially if you are young, inexperienced and insecure? If only they were not crippled by the fear of rejection and called each other instead of taking it for granted that “the other one did not care”. A mistake easily avoided, provided we have maturity and confidence to act on our true desires…

“Don’t take it personally”- I have had enough of ‘empty’ love

We are presented with another ‘what if’ in the second act titled ‘Don’t take it personally’. The story gives us an insight into the minds of two chance lovers in their 40’s feeling awkward the morning after. The female turns out to be a veteran of one night stands who openly regards love as “a very painful disease” and does everything in her power to entice the man to leave her place, despite his attractiveness and willingness to stay. She nips a possible relationship in the bud convinced that every union is doomed to fail. “So…you call me, we go on some dates for a while, and then we have a relationship, and then maybe marriage, maybe children, and then divorce, of course”(…) “It’s not my fault…too many disappointments. Finally I’ve learned”, she says, bringing Fromm’s theory to life. But there is chemistry, she lets him stay longer, they talk and laugh, yet it is not enough to conquer their fears and cynicism – they part as strangers and fail to take a chance on happiness. If only he had asked for her number, if only she had asked him to stay, maybe they would have started dating, “got married, maybe they are now happily ever after”.

‘Melodrama’ – One plus one equals loneliness

The third act, ‘Melodrama’, portrays a couple in their 60’s celebrating 30 years of marriage. The husband and wife feel tired, bored and old, yet are too powerless due to insecurities and fear of change to try and improve their miserable existence.  For the sake of peace and quiet and by avoiding arguments and pretending everything is all right, they maintain their ‘alliance of two against the world’ whilst their feelings of self-unworthiness and unhappiness with each other continue to deepen. They say “It’s better not to tell the truth, to keep quiet, to smile even if you feel like saying go to hell…”. For the sake of the children and stability, they resign themselves to the life of loneliness, lies and psychological decline, resorting to silent outbursts of anger and accusations in order to cope and keep themselves sane. Crisitna Colmena paints a scary picture of what lack of love and respect for oneself and each other can do to people who despite their relatively young age by 21st century standards, deprive themselves of happy and stimulating lives they deserve.

‘I do’, but death has nothing to do with it

The author’s choice to present three age groups symbolic of a lifetime worth of romantic vicissitudes and focus entirely on unhappy side of love does not necessarily  fill one with optimism, especially those who are still waiting to experience couples’ bliss. Nevertheless, the play’s message is clear – if you keep sitting on a fence and do not overcome your fears and insecurities, happiness may never come. Seeing the dark and almost grotesque side of the unhappy marriage in ‘Melodrama’ is depressing enough to make one think that it should never be too late to start seeing ourselves as deserving quality life.   Seems that maturity, experience and opportunity have a lot do with how we approach our lives post middle age. If we are strong and determined enough to find courage to start questioning why our lives are shallow and depressing, we are bound to start finding answers and at least attempt to act on them. Self- love does not mean that we become selfish and cold, it simply means that we embrace who we are and start caring about our own happiness believing that an entitlement to a fulfilling life is as much ours as it is everyone else’s.

It is comforting to know that what is called “gray divorce revolution” has put a stop on “till death do us part” amongst Americans 50 and older. No longer a part of capitalist profit making machine and tied down by financial and family commitments, the retirees have more time to review their romantic and family relationships, take stock of their lives and make changes or new plans and decisions, if needed. New York Times article dated September 20, 2013 quotes statistics showing that the divorce rate among people 50 and older has doubled since 1990, with most being initiated by women. Nowadays, expectations of healthy 50 and 60 years old across the western world are often for much more than a mediocre marriage, with people expecting fun, friendship, passion and as little melodrama in their lives as possible, unless it is seen on screen or stage, and is as enjoyable and entertaining as ‘Happily Ever After’ by Cristina Colmena.

* Cristina Colmena, writer and playwright born in Spain, has lived in New York since 2010. She has published a book of short stories, La amabilidad de los extraños (The Kindness of Strangers), and several of her short stories have appeared in literary magazines.  Her plays, Typing  and Happily Ever After, were included in the New Plays from Spain series as part of the PEN World Voices Festival 2013. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Audiovisual Communication and Journalism and has worked as a director and screenwriter for television. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish from New York University, where she is currently pursuing a PhD in Spanish and Portuguese Literature.  She is also a contributor of articles and film reviews for various publications.

Celebrating Our 5th Season