Monday, August 21, 2017

Mending The Torn Curtain (2015)

Yiddish Performance of the Week

A new weekly feature: Starting today, and on every Monday, I will post a performance of Yiddish theatre, film, documentary film or radio drama. The first presentation is from my hometown of Montreal, and it is about an important person in Yiddish theatre.

Mending The Torn Curtain (2015): This is a 70-minute documentary about the first International Yiddish Theatre Testival, which took place in a nine-day period (June 17–25) in Montreal in 2009. It was directed by Raphael Levy and produced by Ben Gonshor.
Courtesy: Digital Yiddish Theatre Project; Vimeo

Montreal is indeed fortunate to have a thriving Yiddish theatre; and much of the credit for this goes to Dora Wasserman [1919–2003], a name synonymous with Yiddish theatre in Montreal. Wasserman, who was born in the former Soviet Union, in what is now Chernikov, Ukraine, came to Montreal in 1950. In 1958, she founded what has become a preeminent Yiddish theatre, the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre, one of the few remaining in the world. Rarer still, it has a permanent home at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts.

As for the documentary film, it is about preserving and promoting Yiddish theatre, the site says:
On the eve of WW II there were approximately 12 million Yiddish speakers around the world and hundreds of theatres. After the war only 7 million remained. Today there are less than 2 million speakers...and less than a dozen Yiddish theatres. Mending The Torn Curtain tells the moving story of the creation the first ever Montreal International Yiddish Theatre Festival – an in gathering of all the surviving Yiddish theatres from around the world for a week long celebration of theatre, cinema, music, outdoor events, learning exchanges, all with the aim of igniting a spark to light the flame for the future of Yiddish theatre and Yiddish culture and of promoting this legacy for future generations to come.
This was done to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre, a great achievement; it was done to celebrate Yiddish theatre. Ben Gonshor, who co-wrote the documentary film (along with Raphael Levy), put it this way in an article (“Mending The Torn Curtain: A documentary film about the First International Yiddish Theatre Festival;” December 23, 2016) for Digital Yiddish Theatre Project:
Mending the Torn Curtain – a title created by Edit Kuper, a stalwart of the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre and one of the key members of the team that put the Festival together – not only pays tribute to Dora’s remarkable dream, but captures a vital moment in the history of modern Yiddish life, and Yiddish theatre in particular. Today the film is in homes and leading academic libraries across the globe, where the story of the creation of the first ever International Festival of Yiddish Theatre will continue to be told for years to come.
Yasher Koyakh to all.

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