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E.R. Kaminski National Jewish Theater

The National Jewish Theater (E.R. Kaminski) continues a 100+ year history in Poland of performing musicals and dramas in Yiddish. The current repertory includes the classical works by Abraham Goldfaden, Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Peretz, Jakub Gordin and Solomon Anski as well as more contemporary dramas by Isaac Babel, Arthur Miller, and others, whose works refer to Jewish themes. Today, productions are simultaneously translated into Polish & English.

The Jewish theater was revived almost immediately after the end of World War II. In the 1950s, two local theaters united as the National Jewish Theater and moved to Warsaw in 1955. It was named after Esther Rachel Kaminska [1870-1925] (the founder of Warsaw's Jewish theater in 1888) and the mother of Ida Kaminska who was the theater's star performer & director until she emigrated in 1968. Since 1970, the State Jewish Theatre in Warsaw has been in its current location on Grzybowski Square and has been led by actor & director Szymon Szurmiej.

Different theories are postulated as to the motivation of the Communist government's support of the National Jewish Theater, since the Jewish population of post-World War II Poland was and still is a small fraction of its former self and of the general citizenry. Szymon Szurmiej once explained, "This theatre is part and parcel of Polish culture."

 
Posters of plays performed by the E.R. Kaminski National Jewish Theater
(Click on poster # to see image of poster)
 
Comediansposter #2141-artist:Anonymous

Comedians is by Abraham Goldfaden [1840-1908], considered by many to be the father of the modern Yiddish theater. (In 1876, he had established the world's first professional Yiddish-language troupe in Romania.) Goldfaden was a Russian-born author whose oeuvre consists of about 40 plays, noted for their use of alternating prose with verse accompanied by pantomime, dance and/or acrobatics.

 
Dybbuk
poster #1120-artist:Pagowski
#1154-artist:Stachurski
#2216-artist:Pagowski

The Dybbuk is the most famous work of Solomon Anski [1863-1920] a Russian author and dramatist. It was first performed shortly after Anski's death and has been performed globally since its premier. Dubbed 'Romeo and Juliet meets the Exorcist,' its tale of two ill-fated lovers conveys a sense of Hasidic culture, filled with humor and joy as well as sorrow.

 
Faces of Truthposter #2156-artist:Pagowski

Faces of Truth is a drama based on the tradition of the Japanese theater and the film Rashomon by Akiro Kurosaw. The theme deals with the strength and weakness of the human soul that hides the different faces of the truth.

 
Fiddler on the Roof
E.R. Kaminski poster #2157-artist:Pagowski
other theater posters #2159-artist:Swierzy
#2163-artist:Ochicki
#2164-artist:Stasys
#2192-artist:Walkuski
#2198-artist:Pagowski
Fiddler on the Roof is a world-famous musical based on a story by Sholem Alecheim, "Tevye the Milkman". It is an outstanding drama with inspiring music and a humanistic message which speaks to audiences in all parts of the globe. Some productions are in Polish. The E.R. Kaminski director, Jan Szurmiej, also staged this play in Wroclaw, Lodz and Gdynia, Poland.
 
God, Man, and the Devilposter #1149-artist:Jodlowski
God, Man, and the Devil is a 1900 melodrama in which the hero falls victim to the whims of God and Satan as well as his own weaknesses. It was written by Jacob Michailovitch Gordin [1853-1909] a Ukrainian-born playwright, who became an important author in the New York Yiddish theater scene.
 
Herschel from Ostropolposter #2205-artist:Stachurski
Herschel of Ostropol is based on the antics of traditional folk hero Herschel from Ostropol known for his pranks. Herschel of Ostropol was in fact a real person from the Ukraine of the mid-18th century whose antics became legendary.
 
If I Were a Rich Manposter #1171-artist:Pagowski
If I Were a Rich Man is based on well-known Jewish musicals including Fiddler on the Roof. It features popular melodies filled with nostalgia and universal dreams as well as a unique climate of Jewish folklore.
 
Magic World of Chagallposter #2140-artist:Pagowski
Magic World of Chagall was inspired by the paintings of Marc Chagall. In the play, the vision of the customs and traditions of the artist's birthplace - the Jewish community in Witebsk - come to life.
 
Miracle of Purimposter #2126-artist:Anonymous
Miracle of Purim by Icyk Manger is based on the biblical Book of Esther which tells the story of the overthrow of the wicked Haman who tries to destroy the Jews. As conceived and adapted by Golda Tencer - the famous Polish film & theater actress - it is a humorous play, full of music and dance which lightly treats the biblical theme and the joyous traditions of Purim - the happiest Jewish holiday.
 
Night in the Old Marketplace
poster #2131-artist:Lewczuk
#2206-artist:Stachurski
Night in the Old Marketplace is a 1907 visionary emotional drama by Isaac L Peretz [1852-1915] one of the most influential figures of modern Jewish culture. Peretz's writings explore the complexities inherent in the struggle between tradition and the desire for progress.
 
Troubadour from Galiciaposter #1175-artist:Pagowski
Troubadour from Galicia is a musical inspired by the story of Mordechai Gebirtig [1877-1942], a poet of approximately 100 compositions, predominately about Jewish life. His poems, which were set to music, achieved increasing recognition in both his hometown of Cracow as well as throughout Poland. The play's first production was in 1992, marking the 50th anniversary of Gebirtig's untimely death at the hands of the Nazis.
 
Uriel Acostaposter #1158-artist:Pagowski
Uriel Acosta by the German playwright & author Karl Ferdinand Gutzkow [1811-78] is based on the life of Uriel Acosta. Acosta was a Jewish rationalist of the 17th century who was born in Portugal but lived most of his adult life in Amsterdam. For his radical views, he was excommunicated on more than one occasion. And, finally, in 1640, rather than face further humiliation, Acosta committed suicide.
 
 
Sholom Aleichem plays:
The Gold Diggers
poster #2118-artist:Mroz
poster #1152-artist:Stachurski
poster #2160-artist:Pagowski
poster #2200-artist:Pagowski
Heirs
Tevya the Milkman
Wandering Stars

Sholem Aleichem [1859-1916], is often referred to as the "Jewish Mark Twain" because of the similarity of the writing styles of the two authors. However, when the two met, Twain stated that he considered himself the "American Sholom Aleichem. Sholom Aleichem who was born Sholem Yakov Rabinowitz in the Ukraine, originally wrote in Russian and Hebrew but later switched to Yiddish, becoming a central figure in Yiddish literature.
The Gold Diggers was first performed in 1907.
Tevya the Milkman was first performed posthumously in 1917. It was the basis for the first commercially successful English-language production about Eastern European Jewish life -- Fiddler on the Roof (1964).
Wandering Stars was written as a novel and was then adapted for the stage & screen.

See All E.R Kaminski Posters


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