Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Yiddish Theater in WEHO NEWS: (West Hollywood News)


Film Review - Yiddish Theatre: A Love Story

February 14, 2008 – Film Review by Roy Oldenkamp, West Hollywood

West Hollywood, California (February 14, 2008) - Sometimes in life, we have to do what we think is right to fulfill a destiny.

Often in life, few others assist in this goal, watching quietly as a life becomes absorbed by a cause.

Such is the story of Zypora Spaisman in the enthralling new film, Yiddish Theatre: A Love Story.

This award-winning documentary chronicles the travails and triumphs of this fine actress, by necessity the company founder/director of the Yiddish Public Theater company in New York.

The film unwinds as a love song to the indomitable Ms. Spaisman, 84 year old survivor of Hitler’s pogroms and not ready to be taken down in her efforts to preserve Yiddish theater by something as inconsequential as sheer money.

Israeli filmmaker Dan Katzir lets his story unfold rhythmically and ensnares us scene by scene, getting us to root for the grand dame’s success in preserving a dying art form in an obscure language.

As cultures assimilate, the languages of indigenous peoples and isolated communities fall to the wayside, from the Indian reservations in the west and northwest to the Jewish dialects from streets of Brooklyn.

Yet Zypora Spaisman will persevere and keep this Yiddish art form alive, in New York, off Broadway and in the middle of one of the worst winters on record.

In the course of a Hanukah observance, the story reaches its peak and we watch the travails unfold daily and resolve themselves as smashing reviews come in and snowbound audiences stay home.

Throughout the film, one has the sad feeling that this is the final throe of both Ms. Spaisman and Yiddish theater.
It is charming and hopeful to see a handful of younger generation actors become involved in the art form and really pick up the mantle and fall whole heartedly into their work, inhabiting roles originated in the early twentieth century and making them their own.

Watching producer David Romeo become completely absorbed by his efforts to save the show is both heartfelt and poetic. Ms. Spaisman has the assistance of a vital few: she is not alone.

She has made her mark and kept a dream alive. With gratitude, we thank both Zypora Spaisman and Dan Katzir for allowing us to glimpse the sincerity and beauty of Yiddish theater.

Yiddish Theater: A Love Story. Check your local theatres for times and locations.

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