«Jewish Observer»
August 2002
5762 Elul

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Well, the curtain goes up - the praying is heard, it is a ceremony of a first-born redemption, and suddenly, like magic, from the depth of the stage a "Lullaby" melody sounds. Painter's mother calls to the Lord to make her dissolute boy wiser: "You can not live only on your pictures..."

And the play began: a little Mordukh Shagal enters an art school, meets absolute disregard for his pictures by the milieu of a future Master.

The feeling of his artistic way of a painter is accordant to the performer of a leading part - Shagal and other personages - in a mono-performance "Flying over the town" by the actor of the Jewish music drama theatre named after Sholom Aleikhem Avigdor Freidlis. He performs without convenient materials and scenery, with only two pictures and palette. Freidlis with a special ease visible to us, the audience, but not at all to the performer, transforms into a mother, Badhen, grandfather Mordukh, revolutionist Lucia, madam Antoinette.

We may observe the pictures of the XX century - Vitebsk town, beloved city of Shagal, painters, Paris with its Louvre, Montmartre, Versaille and Champs Elysees, Revolution, exodus from the country of Soviets, and Paris again, and exodus again, but this time from the Fascist plague.

Simultaneously, it seems to me the authors put a substantial sense into their offspring trying to touch a wide range of matters: Jewry's situation at the present uneasy historical moment. Besides, they attempted to pay attention to the situation around the theatre staff at the moment.

For already the 12th season the theatre has been fighting for the right to be a professional one in Ukraine. But it still has a municipal status. It rents the premises for a triple price to show plays and to rehearse. And under such circumstances the theatre stages one-two premiers. A play-concert "Laugh, and tears, and love" and a mono-performance staged namely for the international festival "Vidlunnya" were presented this season.

I can't help saying a few words about the leader of the Jewish theatre Avigdor Freidlis, who, regretfully, refused to be the director of the theatre last year. This caused, one the one hand, astonishment, and on the other - exultation of many evil-wishers.

I will express a seditious thought: during the years of Jewish renaissance there appeared lots of Jewish organizations, roof structures, religious communities, cultural centers. But there is no place for a professional theatre. It is replaced by amateur performances during community festivals, or theatrical studios of the communities. And the actor and director Freidlis simply got tired to be a Jewish "yurodivy".

As 12 seasons' work experience has shown, in spite of the indifference of boards of guardians and authorities of Kiev, the audience is still interested in theatre. The theatre has no own account, thus is unable to conclude an agreement with the central booking office on selling the tickets. But people often ask tickets for the theatre shows. Despite all this, performances were held in Planetarium and the "Koleso" theatre.

It will be a pity if, due to the lack of funds, the performance about Shagal sinks into oblivion, if the costs spent on staging, costumes, phonograms and actors' craft ready to be presented to the audience are lost.


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© 2002 Jewish Confederation of Ukraine - www.jewukr.org