An Actress On A Mission
In the film, we see scenes from Green Fields, and they're utterly delightful. But the show is a hard sell: Green Fields was written in 1916 in a language that few people now speak or understand, and it's simple love story set in a rural Eastern European Jewish community with which modern Americans have little in common. To make matters worse, at the time, New York happens to be experiencing an exceptionally cold and snowy winter which makes it difficult to get around the city. Even people who've aready bought tickets to the play aren't showing up for performances.
However, after a 42-year career in Yiddish Theater, Zypora is not about to give up. "I survived Hitler--that German who wanted to kill me--and Stalin, I can do this," she says. And she holds out in hope.
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Actually, Zypora's goal is greater than saving the show. She's trying to save an age-old art form and literary tradition from extinction. Why? "I like speaking Yiddish," she says. "It's mine language."
She also likes acting. And, within the context of America's focus on youth and trendiness, the Yiddish Theater is Zypora's artistic home, the place where she and other aging performers, are still relevant, still respected. This aspect of Zypora's mission is particularly moving.
In telling the story, Katzir enlists living legends of Yiddish theater--Shifra Lerer, Felix Fibich, Seymour Rechzeit and others--in rare interviews and takes us to endangered landmarks of New York's Jewish cultural history.
The Yiddish Theater: A Love Story is as charming, humorous, convincing, tenacious and relevant as its wonderful leading lady.