«Jewish Observer»
November 2002
5763 Kislev

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The Kharkov chamber Jewish theatre has opened its 12th season. 70 years of "international" policy in the USSR have created a stable atmosphere of moral irresponsibility. The notion "Jewish self-awareness" didn't fit even into an abstract category. Yiddish is totally lost, saying nothing about national dramatic art.

Private theatrical concern has become the principle of theatre's work. Performances present actors of Kharkov theatres and philharmonics. Many of those who started the theatre long reside in Israel, America, Germany and other countries but they all remember the roof of their Home.

The premier mono-spectacle is called "We shall live on, Monya Ts" after the story by E.Sevela "Monya Tsatskes - standard-bearer". I would determine this work as a tragic buffoonery with lyrical bright final.

"Efraim Sevela possesses a fresh true talent and stunning gift to strike sparks of humour from most awful and tragic events", - noticed an American writer Irwing Stone. These sparks in combination with the burlesque craftsmanship of actor Vitaly Bondarev are in abundance in the spectacle characters: lieutenant colonel Shtanko, senior political instructor Kats, sergeant-major Kachura, rabbi Moishe Berelovich, shames Shloeime Gakh and, of course, main hero - Monya Tsatskes. For the stage adaptation the producer took only several short stories from the entire novel telling about severe and cruel days on the WWII front. The main hero Monya Tsatskes is such a Jewish Soviet brave soldier Schweik.

A cheerful, witty, astonishingly lucky, fearlessly reckless, wise and good-naturedly patient Red Army fighter is daily forging a long-expected victory risking his life. "Time is never mean, only people are", - this already an aphorism phrase by Gorin's Til is most exact to express the main ethic theme of the performance. People become known in extreme situations the war is so much rich in.

The spectacle authors - producer, merited artist of Ukraine Felix Chemerovsky and painter-producer Taras Shigimaga - offer a synthetic form of characters' existence. Beside characters played by Vitaly Bondarev, we also see puppets. They enable the actor to keep aloof, hyperbolize and tease, where it is to point, making satirical intonations of some episodes sharper. The emotional perception is also intensified due to the music performed by Gera Feldman.

Human dignity is an eternal category. Neither war nor element are able to shatter it. "We shall live on", - actor V.Bondarev pronounces in the final. "We shall live on", - we echo him leaving the auditorium with the feeling of light sadness. We are to live! The successful premiere inspired the Kharkov chamber (theatre) to stage "Last role of Solomon Mikhoels" after the play by E.Sagalov. He participated in the IV International art festival named after Solomon Mikhoels in Moscow.

Merited artist of Ukraine Yevgeny Gimelfarb and actress Irina Kobzar presented on the "Shalom" theatre's stage their version of life and love of Solomon Mikhoels and Anastasia Pototskaya produced by Felix Chemerovsky and Taras Shigimaga. The performance was attended by S.Mikhoels' daughters - Nina Solomonovna and Natalia Solomonovna, as well as daughter of a famous GOSET actor V.Zuskin - Alla Veniaminovna.

Unwillingly returning to the final cue of the spectacle "We shall live on, Monya Ts" I confidently affirm: we are to live since we know what for!

Photo by V. Prikhodko

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