AMID FALLING WALLS Will Have World Premiere at National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene
National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, will continue its 109th anniversary season with the world premiere of Amid Falling Walls (Tsvishn Falndike Vent), a new musical which celebrates the resilience and hope of those who endured during the Holocaust, portrayed through the power of Yiddish song. The musical, presented in Yiddish with English subtitles, features material written and performed in ghettos, cabarets, partisan encampments in the forests, concentration camps and clandestine theaters.
Amid Falling Walls (Tsvishn Falndike Vent) will play a limited four-week-only engagement from November 14-December 10, 2023. Opening night is November 20, 2023 at Edward J. Safra Hall at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
The cast features Steven Skybell, returning to NYTF after his award-winning performance as Tevye in the company’s beloved production of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish. The company also features Abby Goldfarb, Avram Mlotek, a writer and actor considered one of America’s “Most Inspiring Rabbis” and a “leading innovator in Jewish life today,” and Daniella Rabbani. Additional casting will be announced soon.
Amid Falling Walls (Tsvishn Falndike Vent) is curated and arranged by NYTF’s Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek, with a libretto by Avram Mlotek, and direction by Motl Didner. The production includes firsthand testimony of people living through the Holocaust via their own poetry and music. Although many of the young men and women in their 20s and 30s who created the remarkable work featured in the production were murdered during World War II, their songs are brought to life in a show that is the first of its kind: the authentic story of resistance and hope through the words and music of those who were there.
"Amid Falling Walls (Tsvishn Falndike Vent) is not just a musical; it's a testament to the strength, resilience, and creativity of the human spirit,” Zalmen Mlotek says. “With a focus on hope, endurance, and the power of Yiddish song, this production will engage and inspire audiences while honoring an important historical legacy.”
Much of this material exists today because of the efforts of Shmerke Kaczerginski, a poet, partisan and member of the famed YIVO Paper Brigade, who dedicated the years of his life, following the war, to collecting the songs of those who lived through the years of horror.
The phrase “Tsvishn Falndike Vent” is a fragment of the “Partisan Hymn,” a song written in 1943 in the Vilna Ghetto, and because of its powerful lyrics quickly spread through the forests and ghettos and camps as a motto.
Many of the songs in Amid Falling Walls (Tsvishn Falndike Vent) were curated by Yosl Mlotek, who served as education director at the Jewish cultural organization, The Workers Circle, and Chana Mlotek, an ethnomusicologist and folklorist who served as the longstanding music archivist for The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The couple, once called the “Sherlock Holmeses of Yiddish folk songs,” endeavored throughout their lives to collect and transliterate Yiddish songs that originated throughout history, including during the Holocaust. Their son Zalmen continued that tradition and he has passed that on to their grandson, Avram, as well.
The production features several of those songs curated in the recently unveiled Yosl and Chana Mlotek Yiddish Song Collection at The Workers Circle. This comprehensive, searchable online database of Yiddish music contains lyrics, translations, sheet music, and audio and video performances to more than 400 Yiddish songs — including content curated from YouTube, Spotify, and TikTok videos showcasing newer generations of artists around the globe performing songs from the Collection and highlighting the contemporary celebration of Yiddish arts.
The creative team for Amid Falling Walls (Tsvishn Falndike Vent) features scenic design by Jessica Alexandra Cancino, costume design by Izzy Fields, lighting design by Yael Lubetzky, sound design by Dan Moses Schreier, and projection design by Brad Peterson. Assistant Scenic Designer is Madeline Goddard. Choreography is by Tamar Rogoff. Orchestrations are by Frank London and Michael Winograd. Production Stage Manager is Jason Brouillard. Assistant Stage Manager is Robert Cott. Production Management is by TINC Productions (Duncan Northern, Joshua Bernard, Madilyn Kellner). Casting is by Jamibeth Margolis, CSA. Casting Assistant is Meredith Hoddeson.
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