Between the late '30s and 2006, the number of Yiddish stage theaters in the Big Apple sadly dwindled from twelve to one. Two of the last remaining institutions were the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre, sustained for many years by Holocaust survivor Zypora Spaisman (1916-2002), and Spaisman's last remaining stage ensemble, the Yiddish Public Theatre. With his documentary Yiddish Theater: A Love Story, director Dan Katzir visits Spaisman in the final few years of her life, when the determined nonagenarian and her colleagues at the Yiddish Public put forth a concerted effort to find a theatrical venue in which to mount their production of Peretz Hirschbein's 1916 play +The Green Fields. Katzir divides his documentary into eight portions that introduce the audience to the said ensemble's elderly performers, as well as the younger participants, who express great determination to keep yiddishkeit alive. Above all else, the work provides an enduring biographical portrait of Spaisman and reveals the extent to which she linked Yiddish theater to linguistic and cultural preservation. Interviewees include such Yiddish theatrical legends as Felix Fibich, Seymour Rechzeit, Zalmen Mlotek, and Shifra Lerer.
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