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The New York Yiddish Language Meetup Group Message Board › Der Goldene Land

Der Goldene Land

user 6272512
Larchmont, NY

It was suggested that I schedule a meetup to go see the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater performance of Der Goldene Land.  Unfortunately, there are very few seats left for any of the 3 remaining performances (for example, one balcony seat remains for the Sunday 2pm matinee).  I blew it not getting around to this early enough and apologize.  Here is a link for anyone who doesn't mind an orchestra or balcony seat on Dec. 2nd:­


A.L. R.
user 56710972
New York, NY
Post #: 1

The Folksbiene is not "a small company".  It is, barring the very top echelons of non-profit theaters (Roundabout, the Public, MTC, etc.) one of the best-financed non-profit theater organizations in New York, with an annual budget of over a million and a half dollars.  95% of the theater companies in town get by on less than what the Folksbiene spends on a single salary --  and they produce more plays, too.

I am glad people here feel it's important "to revive the Yiddish theater".  And there ARE people out there who are working their tails off trying to do just that.  I'm talking about people who are spending their own money, people who are not rich, who are putting aside their own interests, all in the attempt to keep Yiddish alive.  People who are presenting plays by Moishe Nadir, Sholem Aleichem, Jacob Gordin, etc., etc., all in the original language, and with casts made up of professional actors who are also fluent Yiddish speakers.  All of those actors are working for free, too, as are the directors, just for the love of Yiddish.  Please, please support those people, they need it.  And with a little support they might be able to really do something.  (FYI: I am not involved with the organizations I refer to, I just believe in them.)

'Reviving the Yiddish theater' requires, among other things, producing theater that's actually in Yiddish.  Very little of "Golden Land" is in Yiddish, and what there is is mostly very poor.  Worse, it is BAD THEATRE.  A good show requires more than a good band and talented performers.  It requires intelligence and craft and love of the form on the part of its director and authors.  The vast majority of "The Golden Land" consists of barely-literate English translations of old Yiddish songs, surrounded by a 'book' (dialogue sections) that is alternately idiotic and offensive.  (As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I was shocked -- really, deeply shocked -- by the insensitivity of the show's Holocaust section.  I have it on excellent authority that the director wanted to remove some of this material, but was prevented from doing so by the show's "author".)

Look, there is over 135 years' worth of Yiddish theatre repertoire out there, in every style, from every country and epoch.  Take a moment -- you can each probably think of at least ten titles by yourself.  Why an organization that defines its mission as "to preserve, promote and develop Yiddish theatre for current and future generations" would choose to produce, at enormous expense ($20,000 for the set alone!) something like "The Golden Land" is, to me at least, absolutely beyond comprehension.  Any younger person who was taken to see "The Golden Land" as an example of "Yiddish theatre" would never come back to something called "Yiddish theater" again.  Which is a terrible thing, and is certainly not "promoting Yiddish theatre for future generations".

The Folksbiene has an enormous responsibility, which it is tossing aside when it presents something like "The Golden Land".  Encourage them to do better.  For the money they spend, they could produce spectacular Yiddish theatre if they wanted to.  

Hold out for their production of "The Megilla of Itsik Manger", or for practically anything by New Yiddish Rep.

A.L. Rickman
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