Entries tagged with “Edna Maze”.


Was there a real Fiddler on the Roof? This question is being asked by viewers enjoying the well-known musical or the movie inspired by it, or admiring Chagall’s paintings. The historical figure behind the character actually existed, he was was a famous klezmer in shtetls of Russia in the second half of the 19th century and the source of inspiration for a now almost forgotten novel by Shalom Alechem. His name was Stempenyu. The novel tells about the life and adventures of a man whose two passions – for music and for women – marked his whole path in life. It was brought to stage on Broadway in the 1920s and is now being revived on the stage of the Cameri Theater, in an adaptation by Edna Maze (Mazya – I am not sure about the English transcription of her name).

 

source https://www.cameri.co.il/index.php?page_id=2407

 

I did not read the book, but from what I read around the adaptation is pretty free, the authors having preserved most of the characters but focused on the first part of the story and changed the perspective on some regards. The Jewish world and Alechem’s characters come to life naturally and we recognize the prototypes and they all look immediately familiar, they are our family, our grand-grand-parents – the musicians and their nomad life, the book-keeping wife and the scrutinizing mother-in-law, the absent husband focused on his Torah studies neglecting his beautiful wife who strives foe another life, the student attracted by the modern life and socialist ideas and the hopeless orphan girl never daring to put in words her love for him. All become real on stage in a minimal setting, without too much story building, we there is no need – we have already read and heard this story many times.

 

(video source cameritv)

 

The directing idea is to use no live music in a story which is all around and among music (there is a very well played musical score but it’s a recording). Instead of singing the actors at some points dance or use pantomime, and this combination works very well, creating living pictures of life and characters which express their feelings and reactions not only in text but also or mainly in movement. Above all Yehezkiel Lazarov is excellent in the main role, combining his exceptional skills in both acting and dance. Stempenyu is the closest thing we can get to Yidish theater on the Hebrew stage in Israel today, it is realized in a modern and attractive way and is a performance I do recommend.

 

In her book On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD describes five stages of coping with the malady that she observed in the psychology of many people hit by cancer. The stages may last for different periods of time and will replace each other or may exist simultaneously: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. There is one common feeling through all these stages: Hope.

This information is well known by everybody who faced a disease that can be terminal or who had somebody close and dear who had to cope with such a malady.  Playwright Anat Gov not only has the chutzpah to bring to stage the very delicate and emotional subjects of dealing with cancer and the perspective of death, but also does it with artistic tools and from a perspective different from the one taken by the majority of the artists or writers who did it before.

 

source http://cameri.co.il/index.php?page_id=2195

 

There is no melodrama in the text of Sof Tov (which could be translated as Good End or even Happy End) written by Anat Gov and the staging of Edna Maze at the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv. We are watching a comedy and a musical and if there is anything that is close in genre it is not the psychological journal or reflections on life and death but rather the kitsch medical soap operas that are quite popular on TV. However, the subject and the approach are unexpected. A famous actress enters hospital for chemotherapy for an advanced form of cancer. Statistics are not on her side, the disease was discovered late, she can at best win a few more years of life spent in hospitals and treatments, probably slowing but unable to stop the disease. She seems unable or unwilling to cope with the five stages of the relationship between sick people and fate, and decides to fight back her own way, refusing treatment soon after it started. Does she have the right to do it to herself and her family, has the medical personnel around the right to assist or must they continue the treatment against her own will? The moral and emotional questions asked by the play are smart and difficult if not impossible to answer. The amazing thing is that the low key approach and the comical register work so well in dealing with them on stage.

 

source http://cameri.co.il/index.php?page_id=2195

 

The mix of comedy text, music and dance on such a serious subject succeed to ask the right questions, put in move emotions and entertain most of the time in the version of the play created by Edna Maze. The emphasize is on the strong acting with a wonderful Anat Waxman in the main role, and a supporting cast in which the three actresses playing each one of the other three fellow patients creates wonderful portraits of the ex-rock girl, of the Auschwitz survivor and of the young haredi woman brought together by the destiny of the same malady. Oded Leopold as the doctor was the only actor which I liked less in the performance, he fits the exterior of the role but does not catch and relay the human vibration. Dancing and singing are not the best, the Cameri knows to do much better, and certainly Broadway or West End will do better if they will have the inspiration to take and remake this play. I am pretty sure that they will do it, as the daring and well written text of the play deserves an international career.