Jun 05

Life Is Noisy: “The Dybbuk; Between Two Worlds”

Andrey Burkovskiy & Yana Gladkikh. Photo by Irina Danilova

Presented by Arlekin Players
Written by Roy Chen based on the original play by S. Ansky
Adapted by Igor Golyak with Dr. Rachel Merrill Moss
With additional material from the translation by Joachim Neugroschel
Directed by Igor Golya 
Jewish Music Consultant: Anthony Russell 
Compositions and Sound Design by Fedor Zhuravlev
Dramaturgy by Dr. Rachel Merrill Moss
Featuring: Andrey Burkovskiy, Yana Gladkikh, Olga Aronova, Jenya Brodskaia, Polina Dubovikova, Anna Furman, Boris Furman, Rimma Gluzman, Gene Ravvin, Juliya Shikh, Olga Sokolova, Irina Vilenchik, with Deb Martin, Robert Walsh

May 30 – June 23, 2024
The Vilna Shul 
Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture
18 Phillips St. 
Boston, MA 02114

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — The 2024 performance of The Dybbuk; Between Two Worlds occurs in Beacon Hill’s Vilna Shul, a century-old synagogue. A 20th century Polish ensemble called the Vilna Troupe premiered playwright and activist S. Ansky’s play, The Dybbuk; Between Two Worlds in Warsaw after observing 30 days of traditional mourning for Ansky’s death in 1920. The troupe split into smaller groups, toured the play through Europe, and it became famous.  

The Vilna Shul was built in 1919 near the time of the premier but the Vilna Trouple did not perform The Dybbuk in Boston’s Vilna Shul. The Vilna Troupe originally performed Ansky’s play and now Arlekin Players are performing it in the Vilna Shul. Igor Golyak said through a press rep that the concurrence of these events has invited the spirits of the original troupe to live in the walls of this historic synagogue. 

Arlekin Player’s production is based on Ansky’s play of the same name. Both are about a tragic love story in a turn-of-the-century shtetl about a young woman possessed by a dybuk, a restless, disembodied human spirit from Jewish folklore that wanders the earth because of past sins. 

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Dec 15

No Room at the Inn: “Witness”

WITNESS: A new virtual documentary theater piece

A screen capture of the online platform.

Presented by Arlekin Players’ (Zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab
Conceived and directed by Igor Golyak
Written by Nana Grinstein with Blair Cadden & Igor Golyak
Scenography & Costume Design by Anna Fedorova
Virtual Design by Daniel Cormino
Sound Design by Viktor Semenov
Produced by Sara Stackhouse
Dramaturgy by Blair Cadden 
Featuring the Arlekin Acting Company

December 10, 2021 – January 23, 2023
Over the Arlekin (zero-G) virtual Theater Lab platform
and Zoom
Arlekin Players on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

“It doesn’t feel virtual; it feels real.” 

– Talkback moderator Inessa Rifkin, a founder of the Russian Jewish Community Foundation and a founder of the Russian School of Mathematics, after the December 13 performance of Witness.  

ONLINE/Zoom  — It’s almost Yule! Here’s a Christmas story: In May 1939, the MS St. Louis carried 937 passengers from Nazi-occupied Germany to Havana, Cuba. The Cuban government refused the ship. Its passengers remained onboard; the ship didn’t dock. Cuba had cancelled the immigration papers of the onboard immigrants without notifying them. 

The United States refused the ship too. The US had space to put the passengers but our politicians let money and immigration law stop them from welcoming the passengers. We made a 1976 secular movie about it called “Voyage of the Damned” with Faye Dunaway. How American of us. 

The Jewish passengers were finally allowed some succor when the ship returned to Europe that June.  254 of the passengers died in the Holocaust: 84 in Belgium; 84 in Holland, and 86 in France. There was no room at the inn or the stable with Mary and Joseph. 

Witness by Arlenkin Players is about the fluffy talent show that the passengers held to boost morale. Local New Englanders who are also immigrants play passengers on the boat. It’s about the stark tragedy that our country, a nation that says it welcomes immigrants at its front door on the East Coast, decided that Jewish immigrants fleeing for their very lives should go elsewhere. Popup text boxes invite us to learn about who the passengers were and if they survived the ship. It’s about the multigenerational fight against anti-Semitism in the US. The Arlekin Acting Company portrays Jewish characters from across the decades. Continue reading