Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Monodrama GOLGOTHA to Show Journey of a Holocaust Survivor at La MaMa

From January 26 to 29 La MaMa will present "Golgotha," a tour-de-force monodrama performed in English by Victor Attar.

The production provides a stirring journey into the past of a Holocaust survivor from Salonica (the Greek city also known as Thessaloniki) that reveals, through the blending of video and music, the under-recognized experience of Ladino-speaking Sephardic Jews who were sent to Auschwitz Birkenau.

The piece is written by Shmuel Refael, adapted by Haim Idissis, translated by Howard Rypp and directed by Geula Jeffet-Attar. Its production coincides with United Nations' World Holocaust Day, January 27.

Mr. Attar plays Albert Salvado, a Holocaust Survivor re-living the atrocities of the camps as he prepares for his long awaited dream to come true: the honor of lighting the torch at the annual Holocaust commemoration ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The honor is compounded by Albert's intense guilt and pain surrounding his being chosen as the torch bearer, making him question not only his right to light the torch but also his identity as a Sephardic Jew.

The estrangement many Ladino-speaking Jews felt during the Holocaust is captured in the play through the inner turmoil experienced by Albert in the isolation of a dark apartment where he has nothing but a photograph to remind him the family he left behind as the only survivor of his household. The Holocaust lives on inside him like The Devil playing hide and seek with his soul. He recalls stealing potatoes and cabbage with a friend to ward off starvation, losing his wife and two daughters, and having to work in the crematorium twelve hours a day. The fires still burn in his body, he says.

"Golgotha," the name of the site of Jesus' crucifixion, has become a Ladino word for suffering. It is Alberto's suffering that the play is devoted to. "Golgotha" illustrates the isolation of Sephardic Jews among the Ashkenazi during the Holocaust. Their suffering was intensified by this, yet nowdays, it is overshadowed by the suffering of their bretheren.

In conceiving the play, Shmuel Refael drew upon his own father's experiences and research he conducted in 2001 under a commission from the foreign ministry of Spain. His manuscript has been adapted by Israeli screenwriter Haim Idissis and translated into English by Howard Rypp. Director Geula Jeffet Attar stages the piece as a multimedia experience with Greek-Judeo music by Yuval Mesner and video art by Dana Levy. The play debuted at La MaMa in 2005, performed by Victor Attar presented in rotating rep with his performance of "Einstein" by Gabriel Emanuel.


January 26 to 29, 2017
La MaMa, 74A East Fourth Street
Presented by La MaMa
Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 2:00 PM
$18/13 students & seniors
Ten $10 tickets will be available to every performance on a first-come, first-served basis.
Box office (646) 430-5374,
Running time: :60. Critics are invited to all performances.

Critic Irene Backelenick wrote in All About Jewish Theatre, "Victor Attar and (his wife) Geula Jeffet Attar might well be considered the Alfred Lunt-Lynn Fontanne of Israel." Geula was born in Israel of Yemenite heritage. Victor was born in Bagdad and immigrated to Israel at 14. He trained as actor at Beit Zvi School of the Performing Arts and subsequently earned an M.A in Performance Studies from NYU. He was a principal member of the Cameri theater in Tel Aviv and later of The Kahn, Jerusalem's repertory theater. First coming to New York in1969, he was nominated for Best Actor in Show Business Magazine's annual awards. He wrote and performed the avant-garde play, "The Road" and achieved prominence in New York for his performance in the La MaMa production of Fernando Arrabal's "The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria," directed by Tom O'Horgan. Geula Jeffet Attar studied at RADA in London, earned an MA in Performance Studies at NYU and acted in London, Israel and New York.

The couple work simultaneously in Israel and the U.S., generally with Victor as actor and dramaturg and Geula as director. In the U.S., they have concentrated on New York premieres of modern Israeli plays and new avant-garde theatrical works on Jewish and Middle Eastern themes. Their collaborations include the New York premieres --all at La MaMa--of "Twilight" by Ada Amichal-Yavin; "The Seven Beggars," adapted from the 18th century story by Rabbi Nachman of Braslev; "Creation" by Yossefa Even Shoshan, "Exile In Jerusalem" by Motti Lerner, "Masked Men" by Ilan Hatzor, "Eppure si muove" by Yosef Mundi, "The Labor Of Life" and "The Whore From Ohio" by Hanoch Levin, "Golgotha "by Dr Shmuel Refael, "Seven Days" by Shlomi Moskovitz and "The Lady and the Peddler" by S.Y. Agnon. Victor is also known for distinguished performances in plays staged by other directors, including "The Trojan Women," "The Night Before Thinking," "The Little Prince" and "Woyzeck," all at La MaMa.

An integral part of New York City's cultural landscape, La MaMa has a worldwide reputation for producing daring work in theater, dance, performance art, and music that defies form and transcends boundaries of language, race, and culture. Founded in 1961 by theater pioneer and legend Ellen Stewart, La MaMa is a global organization with creative partners and dedicated audiences around the world. La MaMa presents an average of 60-70 productions annually, most of which are world premieres. To date, over 3,500 productions have been presented at La MaMa with artists from more than 70 nations. Honored with more than 30 OBIE Awards and dozens of Drama Desk and Bessie Awards, La MaMa's programming is culturally diverse and cross-disciplinary, drawing audiences from all walks of life. For the fourth consecutive year, La MaMa is offrering its 10@$10 program whereby ten tickets are made available for every performance in every theater in advance for only $10.

Pictured: Victor Attar in "Golgotha" at La Mama E.T.C. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Related Articles View More Off-Off-Broadway Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

More Hot Stories For You