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New Virtual Production of THE DYBBUK Scores More Than 6,000 Views

The virtual production premiered December 14th.

New Virtual Production of THE DYBBUK Scores More Than 6,000 Views

Last week, the new 100th anniversary virtual production of THE DYBBUK surpassed 6,000 views and that number is rapidly climbing. Presented by the Congress for Jewish Culture, S. Ansky's THE DYBBUK is the world's most famous Jewish play. The virtual production premiered December 14th on YouTube: https://youtu.be/sop8T-OxN2M to unanimous rave reviews led by The Forward calling it "Mesmerizing! One of the best theatrical productions I've seen since the lights went out on Broadway!" THE DYBBUK features an all-star international cast including Los Angeles-based Mike Burstyn (BARNUM, THE ROTHSCHILDS), Shane Baker (New York), Mendy Cahan (Tel Aviv), Refoyel Goldwasser (Buenos Aires), Daniel Kahn (Berlin), Amitai Kedar (Tel Aviv), Yelena Shmulenson (New York), Suzanne Toren (New York), and Michael Wex (Toronto). Designed and directed by Allen Lewis Rickman, this presentation is performed in Yiddish featuring English subtitles, with a script adapted by Allen Lewis Rickman (from an adaptation by Dina Halperin, who appeared in the 1937 film version).

Playwright S. Ansky wrote THE DYBBUK from late 1913 through 1915 in Russian and it was later translated into Yiddish by Ansky himself. The play had its world premiere in that language, performed by the Vilna Troupe in Warsaw on December 9, 1920, 30 days after the playwright's death. Legendary impresario Max Reinhardt, upon seeing the Vilna production, famously declared "This is not a play, this is a religious rite!"

THE DYBBUK was subsequently translated into over 25 languages and performed thousands of times all over the world. On September 1, 1921, the play had its American premiere at the grand opening of Maurice Schwartz' Yiddish Art Theatre in New York, starring Schwartz and Celia Adler. The play was an important artistic and commercial hit and ran for 18 weeks. Along with numerous Broadway productions, the film adaptation of THE DYBBUK was released in 1937 directed by Michał Waszyński. It is still being produced in countless adaptations, as well as operas, ballets and symphonic suites. The play is considered the jewel of the Jewish theatre.

Based on years of research by S. Ansky, who traveled between Jewish shtetls in Russia and Ukraine, documenting folk beliefs and stories of the Hassidic Jews, THE DYBBUK relates the story of a young bride possessed by a dybbuk - a malicious possessing spirit, believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person - on the eve of her wedding.

This virtual production serves as a particularly personal way to honor THE DYBBUK as two members of the company had close relationships with notable figures from the play's initial premieres. As a young teen, Mike Burstyn appeared in three plays with Maurice Schwartz and the two families became lifelong friends. Shane Baker's mentor, Luba Kadison, had a small role in the original production and she went on to star as Leah, a role she would reprise throughout her years onstage. Her father Leib Kadison founded the Vilna Troupe during World War I.

Founded in 1948, the Congress of Jewish Culture is a secular organization based in New York City. Executive Director Shane Baker, who is serving as producer for this undertaking, maintains its longstanding commitment to enriching Yiddish culture worldwide.

THE DYBBUK is supported by Ted Velvl Haendel in memory of his late wife, the beloved Yiddish world figure Chana Yachness. For more information, visit congressforjewishculture.org.

Watch the production below!


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