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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » December 30, 2016
Theater
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Jewish Theater Soldiers on Without a Home
December 30, 2016   
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Despite losing its permanent home on Grzybowski Square, Warsaw’s Jewish Theater soldiers on with several new plays scheduled to open this winter season.

Beginning in 1971, the Jewish Theater resided at 12/16 Grzybowski Sq. in central Warsaw, in a building designed specifically to house a theater and funded by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. This past June, the building was closed down, leaving the Jewish Theater and its audiences without a permanent venue. The theater started giving outdoor performances on Grzybowski Square and during the Singer’s Warsaw Festival in late summer, the Jewish Theater’s festival productions were hosted by the Kwadrat and Polski theaters and several other venues.

The Jewish Theater might eventually find a new home in a building slated for construction near the old location, but for the time being the company will have to move into the Fabryka Trzciny culture center at 14 Otwocka St. in Warsaw’s Praga district. This will not happen before the venue undergoes renovation and until then, the Jewish Theater will be staging its productions at the Warsaw Garrison Club at 141a Niepodległości Ave. and the Warsaw Chamber Opera at 76B Solidarności Ave. Selected performances will also take place at the Austrian Culture Forum at 7/9 Próżna St.

Jewish Theater director Gołda Tencer says that, despite being on the move for a whole year, the company will be busy putting on new shows. “We are going to start in December,” says Tencer. “We are planning a co-production with the Polski Theater in Poznań and we will work with acclaimed directors such as Maja Kleczewska, Karolina Kirsz, Łukasz Kos, Tomasz Szczepaniak and others.”

The first premiere of the 2016/2017 season is Shosha, a play based on the Isaac Bashevis Singer novel of the same title and set in the literary community of prewar Warsaw. The production, directed by Karolina Kirsz, will open at the Warsaw Chamber Opera Dec. 16. Then, the Jewish Theater will stage The Kosher Girl, a comedy by American dramatist Danny Simon, the mentor of Woody Allen. Directed by Marcin Sławiński, this play will open Jan. 13 at the Warsaw Garrison Club.

The third new production is The Jackpot, a comedy written by Sholem Aleichem and directed by Tomasz Szczepanek. Spiced up with a heavy dose of dark humor, the play shows how big lottery wins can affect human behavior. The theater is planning to stage The Jackpot in the first quarter of next year.

The Jewish Theater’s new projects also include five shows for children aged 7-12 and introducing young viewers to the major religions of the world. The main characters of all five episodes are a brother and a sister. When one of the siblings gets sick, they embark on a quest to find out who or what God is and if there is a God in the first place. Why does God allow children to suffer if he exists? Using their own imagination, the kids explore Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions, learning different rituals and religious laws in the process. The project is the brainchild of Magda Fertacz and is directed by Przemysław Jaszczak.

Later next year, the Jewish Theater is planning to stage The Golem, written by Łukasz Chotkowski and directed by Maja Kleczewska. This is a new version of The Golem(1921) by H. Leivick, a play based on the Jewish legend of the anthropomorphic (albeit mute and soulless) being made of clay.
Joining forces with the Polski Theater from the western city of Poznań, the Jewish Theater is working on The Painted Bird, a play directed by Maja Kleczewska and Łukasz Chotkowski and based on the controversial novel by Polish-American writer Jerzy Kosinski. First published in 1965, the book tells the story of a young boy who, “considered a Gypsy or Jewish stray,” wanders about Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe during World War II.

Ester Rachel and Ida Kamińska Jewish Theater
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