Once again, a production by the 109-year-old National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene (NYTF) moves its packed audiences to tears as well as to standing ovations. Opening on Monday night, November 20, after a week of previews, the new production entitled “Amid Falling Walls” will run through December 10 at the Edmond J. Safra Hall of the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
Following such notable productions as “Harmony,” “The Golden Bride” and the overwhelmingly successful “Yiddish Fiddler on the Roof,” this new production does not disappoint. The young actors vibrantly perform authentic Yiddish musical selections that have been recovered and researched from the dark days of the Holocaust. Adding to their troupe is the talent and personality of Steven Skybell, whose performance as Tevye in the sensational “Yiddish Fiddler” was lauded off the charts.
The production is curated and arranged by the NYTF Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek together with curator and writer, son Avram Mlotek. The younger Mlotek is an ordained rabbi, cantor, licensed social worker, author of two books and the grandchild of noted Yiddish culturists Yosl and Chana Mlotek. The director of this production is Motl Didner, award-winning director of the “Yiddish Fiddler,” “The Golden Bride” and “The Megile of Itzik Manger,” as well as other classics of Yiddish theater.
The production features material written and performed in ghettos, cabarets, partisan encampments in the forests, concentration camps and clandestine theaters. The scores include firsthand testimony of the people living through the Holocaust via their own poetry and music. Tragically, many of the young men and women who created these remarkable works, most of whom were in their 20s and 30s, were murdered during the Holocaust. “Amid Falling Walls” perpetuates their work and brings it to life as it presents the authentic story of resistance.
Adding to the simple but effective backdrops are screens and columns throughout the theater that feature photographs of scenes and individuals from the Holocaust period that illustrate the lyrics of the songs being presented. On an electronic board above the stage, the lyrics are translated into English and Russian.
Artistic Director of NYTF Zalmen Mlotek shared, “With focus on hope, endurance and the power of Yiddish song, this production will engage and inspire audiences while honoring an important historical legacy.”
Avram Mlotek added: “‘Amid Falling Walls’ is a musical unlike any other. Every song sung originates from the war period, written by people who lived during that horrific period. Nearly every word spoken comes from survivors. As a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, it has been a privilege to be part of this creative endeavor.”
The 375-seat Safra Hall is located on the main floor of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, inaugurated in 1997, with the mission of educating visitors from all backgrounds about Jewish life before, during and after the Holocaust. With a collection of over 40,000 artifacts, photographs, documentary films and survivor testimonies, it has become one of the most visited Holocaust archives and memorials in the world. Currently on view is a major new exhibition entitled “The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do,” as well as photographs of Holocaust survivors by Martin Schoeller.
On October 15, 2023, a new, state-of-the-art exhibition entitled “Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark” opened, which re-enacts the extraordinary rescue of Denmark’s Jewish population in 1943. The exhibit features moving holographic stories and appeals to audiences from 9 to 90.
To order tickets to “Amid Falling Walls” at the Edmond Safra Hall of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, New York, New York, go to https://nytf.org