Yiddish WAITING FOR GODOT to Open 7th Annual Origin's 1st Irish Festival in September
The New Yiddish Rep's crowd-pleasing world premiere of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" in Yiddish, a surprise hit of the 2013-14 season, opens the 7th annual Origin's 1st Irish Festival in September. Presented by the Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow Street, from September 4 to 21, the show's return engagement Off-Broadway completes a remarkable trans-Atlantic journey for this uniquely illuminating version of Beckett's absurdist masterwork, as it comes on the heels of its European premiere in Northern Ireland where "Vartn Auf Godo" will open the 3rd annual Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival.
If this production doesn't render the play in its true language of origin (as some have claimed), it does, with haunting resonance, return "Godot" to the historical context of post WW II Europe in which Beckett was writing, in effect tracing it to its elemental moral and social roots. Beckett, a member of the French Resistance, wrote the play in '48-'49. (Its world premiere at the Théatre de Babylone in Paris was in 1953.)
The Forward's Ezra Glinter called "Godo" "a distinctive work that possesses its own power while shedding new light on the original." The world premiere of "Waiting for Godot" in Yiddish (performed with English supertitles), was co-produced with the multicultural Castillo Theatre; it opened at the Castillo Theatre on September 22, 2013.
Director Moshe Yassur, a veteran of both the Yiddish and modern theatre, notes that this production "is particularly Jewish, the characters are Holocaust survivors, they are facing the unimaginable, and they are waiting for answers that may not come. Yiddish, the language of laughter and tears, captures this sound, this feeling like no other language."
The authorized translation is by Shane Baker, a leading expert on Yiddish vaudeville and theatre. Joining the production's multi lingual and multi-ethnic New York cast as Pozzo is Allen Lewis Rickman (Coen Brothers's "A Serious Man" and HBO's Boardwalk Empire (recurring). Returning cast members include Rafael Goldwaser, who runs Théatre en l'Air in Strasbourg, France, as Lucky, and, as the hapless hobos Shane Baker, as Vladimir, and New Yiddish Rep's artistic director David Mandelbaum, as Estragon. The 10-year-old Nicholas Jenkins, as the boy, also continues with the production.
"Who's better at waiting than the Jews?" observes Baker, who based his translation on the English and French versions. Beckett, who wrote the play in French and translated the work into English, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. "Interestingly," Baker adds, "in Beckett's early drafts of the play, the character of Estragon was named Levy. That tells you something."
New Yiddish Rep's critically acclaimed "Waiting for Godot" in Yiddish runs in-competition as part of the 2014 Origin's 1st Irish Festival at the Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow Street, from Thursday September 4 to Sunday September 21. Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm. For tickets, which are $35 and $59, call SmartTix at 212/868-4444, or visit www.smarttix.com
Origin's 1st Irish is the only theatre festival in the world devoted to contemporary plays by Irish playwrights. Samuel Beckett was born in Ireland.