• Français
  • English
  • German formal - Sie

En tournée
Singer by/on Singer PDF Print E-mail







The show-reading« Singer on/by Singer » is a command which was sent to me by the director of the 10th festival « Jiddische Musik- und Theaterwoche » in Dresden (Germany) which took place from the 26.10 until the 05.11.2006.

The basic idea of the show is to let hear the yiddish language and at the same time to have a life-simultaneous translation (in this specifical case, in german).


The stagepresents, a place of conferences,  with 2 reading-tables, each one in one side of the stage and a screen board in the background.


We know that I.B. Singer used to make public lectures of his work and we would like to remake them alive.

Public readings of Yiddish litterature were often done in the Yiddish world, and our company, Der LufTeater, continues with this tradition trying to adapt ourselves to a world in which the Yiddish language is no more spoken in the everyday life by a large amount of people.


Singer’s translator comes on stage and waits. When I.B.Singer enters, he says hello to some people he knows in the room, wearing a white summer-costume (he lived his last years in Miami Beach), and with an old bag in his hand.


He sits down, open his bag and take out old yiddish newspapers (Forverts) from which he’ll read his stories.



He announces the first story « Why did the geese shrieked» to the public and the translator.

On the screen, we can see a film in black and white, mute, with an old khassidic music. Le film en noir et blanc représente la mémoire de l’auteur This film that represents his memory, is taken from a show our company putted on stage named « Singer Cabaret”.


Bashevis Singer reads the stories in yiddish and the translator translates step by step.



The other stories are « My sister » and “Traitl”.


A la fin, Singer lit dans les deux langues, sans l’aide de la traductrice, la conférence sur le yiddish qu’il a prononcée lors de la réception du Prix Nobel de Littérature qui lui a été décerné en 1978. At the end, Singer reads in both languages, without her help, the conference he did about the Yiddish language when he received the Nobel Price


The reading in yiddish is actually an imitation of I.B. Singer’s way of speaking, with his yiddish-polish accent.


 1.jpg  2.jpg  3.jpg
S'Brent PDF Print E-mail


Review of a performance by the Yiddish Theater of Strasbourg in Tuebingen, Germany


Schwaebisches Tagblatt (Swabian Daily Paper, Tuebingen), February 2007

Translated by Dr. Henrik Eger, USA


As if it were a whole Shtetl:

Rafael Goldwaser presents a whole theater cosmos in a chamber theater


[DHE, the reviewer of this “sold-out performance,” provides a brief summary of the monologues by Sholem Aleichem, as performed by Rafael Goldwaser, an actor from Strasbourg.  The reviewer also lists Karl Menrad, an actor at the Chamber Theater, for having provided commentary and an alternating reading of Aleichem’s monologues in German translation. 


The reviewer refers to Goldwaser’s “furious interpretation” with “a whole life pouring out of him.  That may be because of the energetic explosive nature which Goldwaser exudes as a barrel-round old woman that dominates the entire sparse theater hall.“ . . . The reviewer then describes what Goldwaser wore, and explains the content of the various stories and cites an example of the effectiveness of the art of both Aleichem and Goldwasser, “When he says, ‘he died of death, of death,’ such lines were understood immediately even by those theater-goers who never took a course in ‘Yiddish as a foreign language’.”]


Goldwaser, born in Buenos Ares in 1947, impressed not only as one of the rare Yiddish performers of Europe, but--with just half a sentence here, just one gesture there--he conjures up many more figures as if he were a complete Shtetl in one person. 


With that, he shows his deep spiritual connections and shared heritage to Aleichem, the writer, who imbued his characters with constantly new manners and habits of speaking, 


It is remarkable how Goldwaser can change his movements and facial expressions in extraordinary ways.  For example, he shows the harmless, well-intended smile of a simple old man and, at the same time, something typical, something artificial, like a mask in Japanese Theater, a subject that Goldwaser has studied in Tel Aviv and Paris, in addition to Acting, the History of Drama, and Pantomime.


Even his second protagonist, “the Burnout,” moves into a strange irreality through his face which resembles a mask: one half bathed in light, the other shrouded in darkness. 


Goldwaser was guest performing at the Chamber Theater, co-sponsored by organizers of the Reading Circle (“Jewish Literature in East Central Europe”), the Hoelderlin Society, and the Slavic Seminar. 


In 1992, Goldwaser founded the “LufTeater of Strasbourg” with the goal of presenting Yiddish European Culture after the Shoah. 



Reflections on seeing Yiddish Theatre, rising from the ashes & coming alive again


My dear friend Rafael Goldwasser,


What a pleasure hearing from you.  It was the first mail since the conference of the Association of Jewish Theatre (AJT) in Vienna.  I have talked about you and am deeply moved by your art of letting Yiddish theatre live on in a way that made me both cry and laugh.


I LAUGHED because you managed to revive Yiddish theatre with much with and charm and an unbelievable artistic skill as an actor and director, taking it to the highest level of theatre art.  And I CRIED because several times during your performance in Vienna I had to think of the many human beings who perished in Hitler’s concentration camps and whose disappearance almost triggered the loss of the Yiddish language and of Yiddish culture.


Mercifully, you and your colleagues in Strasbourg and in other cities of the world where citizens of the world like Rafael Goldwasser not only let the old culture live on, but also, with much energy and perseverance, give the world the gift of a new Yiddish theatre. 


I do not know how I can tell you and your friends who are sitting in the Yiddish theatre boat how much I value your work, how much I hope that you, through your language courses and theatre performances will continue to sail along toward islands of new recognition and of life.


I am embracing you across the Atlantic and hope that many young people will learn Yiddish and get to know Yiddish culture and will pass on the innermost kernel of Yiddish theatre  to the next generation, namely, to be a MENSCH, a real MENSCH, a real human being.


Herzlich (as in Theodor Herzl = from the heart),

Yours Henrik


Professor Dr. Henrik Eger

Poster PDF Print E-mail
To see our videos in youtube: click on the links:

Gilgl fun a nign 1:


Gilgl fun a nign 2:


Gilgl fun a nign 3:



 Metamorphoses of a Melody

Rafaël Goldwaser giving guest performance

For a melody sprung from Chassidic spirit, one can hardly imagine a better example than that which was presented at the stage of the Societaetstheater, bearing the slightly circuitous title “Metamorphoses of a Melody.” This title is certainly more comprehendible for outsiders than “A gilgl fun a nign,” as the story is called in the Yiddish original by Itzhok Lejb Perez. Like many Yiddish songs the melody is a borderline experience: it can be cheerful or sad and suddenly change from one mood to the other, even embody both dispositions at the same time. In the present case, it is about a melody which is in fact intended for mourning the dead. It transforms itself several times, it is sung by different people in different ways, by a Klezmer group, at the theater stage, it is played on a barrel organ, and, finally, it transforms itself to a jazz theme. And each time the melody reveals another facet of mood without forsaking its most inner nature.

The presentation by the LufTheater Strasbourg showed in an inconspicuous way modern theater forms which are primarily a combination of direct acting and film sequences. Several small projection screens allow a simultaneous presentation of different levels of character and time. What is outstanding here is the ease with which the elements merge. This seems to be an integral factor of the LufTheater which – existing since 1992 – demonstrates the viability of Yiddish-speaking culture with a new production every year. The ensemble focuses its productions on the Yiddish classics and the Yiddish share in the cultures of Eastern Europe.

The one-person-piece gains its power through the intensity of performance of Rafaël Goldwaser. This is a man who can play theater in French, English, Spanish, Hebrew and Yiddish, who has five degrees from the universities of Tel Aviv and Paris, and also is a dancer, choreographer, director, drama teacher and professor of theater studies. A critic once wrote about him that he could narrate with his feet. He manages to dominate the stage for fifty minutes without resorting to cheap tricks. The mix of studio theater play, great expression, and the many levels he is conveys is striking.

Peter Zacher

(Translation: Johanna Wolter)


            By Yitshok Niborski (France) 

The Transmigration of a Melody,” by I.L. Peretz—DVD—film of a performance by Rafael Goldwaser with the Lufttheatre, 2009-11-25 

Rafael Goldwaser is a Yiddish actor who has followed his own road, one that is unusual for our times, indeed, one that is perhaps truly unique. Born in Argentina, he is the actor son of an actor. His father, Zishe Goldwaser, was well known in that country both for his stage performances and his recitals. Having studied with great masters in Paris, Rafael performed for a few years in Israel and has now been living in Strasbourg for about a quarter of a century. There, in an environment which at the beginning was completely unfavourable to Yiddish theatre—indeed, to Yiddish in general—Goldwaser stubbornly tilled the hard soil far and wide, until he had achieved tangible results, both in the domain of theatre and in support of Jewish culture in general. 

      Goldwaser’s Lufttheatre (“Theatre of the Air”) has gone through several stages, At times it is rich in human and material resources, and at times…poorer. But by hook or by crook, every few years something new emerges from Strasbourg. Goldwaser has both staged entire plays and performed recitals of prose works. He has acted in Yiddish and in French, and has sometimes mixed both. On one occasion he appears with a small troupe and on another in a one-man-show. But always he is creative. 

      Nowadays, when many take the easy way out, performing “Yiddish theatre” in the form of entertainment reviews with as little Yiddish as possible, Goldwaser has chosen to tread a more rugged terrain. He brings to the stage the words of a Manger or a Bashevis Singer, a Peretz or a Sholem-Aleichem, resorting to every means at his disposal to make himself understood—every means except to cheapen.  

      As can be expected, this attitude did not instantly attract a wide audience. For a long time he was known mainly in Western Europe. But over the course of the years his patient artistic work began to be noticed. Today he is known the world over. This year he was invited to stage important performances in Poland and Canada. His accomplishments are also better known and understood thanks to the success of films that are now available. 

      The newest of these films is based on Y.L. Peretz’ masterpiece, Transmigration of a Melody, the short story which is one of the most beautiful and most profound pieces in Peretz’ Hasidish collection. The readers of the Forward are surely familiar with this monologue, in which the narrator, a Talner Hasid, discusses the spiritual nature of music: A melody is like a person: It can rise to the highest heights and sink to the deepest abyss. It can live and die and then come alive again. The tale Peretz wove around this notion represents one of the pinnacles of his art. 

      Adapting this wondrous monologue to film is no mean task. The text is difficult, a consequence of its dense Hasidic-rabbinical vocabulary and the subtlety of Peretz’ style. Here and there Golwaser edits marginally, but in general he remains faithful to the original. So how do those with a more rudimentary knowledge of Yiddish manage? English-language subtitles provide some assistance; more important, however, are the actor’s own efforts to bring the viewer closer to Peretz’ creation. 

      Within this framework Rafael Goldwaser has sown his own work of art. Should the sense of the words escape the average viewer, he endeavours to make up for it through strength of expression. He pronounces the sentences with a truly sharp enunciation, and at a hairsbreadth slower than he would with a totally fluent Yiddish-speaking audience. With the same aim—making the words comprehensible—he accentuates the words more strongly and more distinctly. 

      Godwaser does not just harness his voice to the task of interpretation, but his entire body. The monologist does not stand in one spot: he moves constantly among the elements of a simple but clever set: taleisim (prayer shawls) hanging in the manner of curtains symbolically and aesthetically portioning the visual field. The actor glides over one area, pauses at another, and rocks at a third, ostensibly in a covered wagon on the way from Machnovke to Berditchev and back. He pulls out all the stops, using not just his face, but his body and soul—a well-thought out and exciting dynamic—anything to illuminate the word and make it more accessible. 

      Such a rendition has many advantages, but it diminishes somewhat from the narrative ease, and at certain climactic moments (for example, the description of a theatre performance in Kiev) Goldwaser’s portrayal becomes too loud and lively. A moment such as this requires a bit of restraint. After all, Peretz’s Hassidic narrator is of course the unassuming, polite (yet astute) Yoychenen the Teacher, who enjoys telling a story with “simple words, unsalted and ungreased.” With him in mind, it is difficult to wholly justify the jester-like tenor here and there adopted by Goldwaser with a sing-song that is not always appropriate for the dialogue. 

      These miniscule flaws, however, in no way call into question the exceptional quality of Goldwaser’s work—and, incidentally, not just his. The film was very judiciously and tastefully directed by Mariette Feltin. She successfully dodged the pitfall of monotony, often changing the camera angles, interrupting the main narrative with well-matched pictures which accompany or represent on the screen the actor’s shape, leaving only his voice in the background. Music and sound (by Jean-Raymond Gélis) suitably accompany and emphasize the moods and hues of Peretz’s story. Brilliant lighting and the above-mentioned minimalist taleisim stage scenery also have a strong effect. The whole package makes this newest transmigration of Peretz’s Transmigration of a Melody a most successful creation. It is our good fortune that DVD technology has made it possible to bring such craftsmanship to libraries, institutions of learning and homes wherever Yiddish literature and Yiddish spoken word art are cherished.  



The Metamorphosis of a Melody PDF Print E-mail
The LufTeater presents this novel of Yitskhok Leybush Peretz, who's considered the « father » of the Yiddish Litterature.
It is part of his khassidic stories.

A melody has a soul, it is the feeling of a human being that makes it alive.

To prove it, the story-teller will tells us a story about the Metamorphosis (or re-incarnation) of a Melody.

Khaiml, a poor musician has for mission to bring a new composition of an El Mole Rakhmim (a traditional jewishrequiem in the honor of a dead stingy rich man, Berl Katzner, in his daughter's wedding),  by the great klezmer compositor Pedhotser, living in Berditschev.

But arriving to Berditschev, Pedhotser is absent, and the poor Khaiml has the opportunity to hear the song of a young poor bride composed by him in order to help her to collect money for her wedding.

Khaiml converts this « Mazl Tov » into a real El Mole Rakhmim.

But when he plays it during the wedding of Katzner's daughter, the melody is whistled by one of the  guests, and Khaiml enters with him in a competition in which the melody loses her soul.

Years after, the melody enters the yiddish theater, and her goal is now to inflame the low sexual instincts of the public.

When the yiddish theater is closed by an official decree, the melody is taken over by street acrobats and a stollen young girl, and the melody is played by a barrel organ.

The poor stollen young girl gets sick and the acrobats abandon her in a shtetl called Radziwil. There she lies in a hospital with a typhus, and becomes blind.

The young poor girl uses the melody now to beg, and the melody, through her suffering, begins to raise, since her goal now is to awaken the solidarity of the people.

But she's thrown away by a Talmud scholar who's disturbed in his study by her singing.

The melody now stays in the scholar's mind and soul and prevent him from learning and praying.
He gets mad almost.

And then, he decides to go and visit a Tsadik (a Just). He visits Reb Dovidl, the Tsadik, in a Shabat meal.

Reb Dovidl asks the scholar to sing something, and the scholar, trembling, sings the only melody he knows, the poor blind girl's melody.

He adds to the melody the knowledge and fervour of a Talmud scholar.

And so, the melody gets her reparation.

Reb Dovidl asks the scholar to help the blind poor girl to marry, and doing so, the melody gets back her first goal, that is to marry a young girl.

Years after, when the girl was already married to a scribe a widow, it was clarified where from the poor girl came.

She was the granddaughter of Berl Katzner, that was stollen from her parents an evening when they went to the theater.

To see the poster : click here
Ça Brûle ! PDF Print E-mail
Ça Brûle ! d'après Sholem Aleicheim
Spectacle en langue Française ou Yiddish

Mise en scène :
George Philippe Danan

Comédien :
Rafaël Goldwaser

Françoise Dapp-Mathieu
Rita Tataï

Traduction Française:
Annette Fern
Atelier Yiddish de Strasbourg

Le théâtre en l'air (Der Lufteater) présente un one man show intitulé Ça Brûle! d'après des textes de l'écrivain Yiddish Sholem Aleicheim. Le spectacle met en scène successivement trois personnages truculents issus de l'imagerie populaire juive du Shtetl-du village : une mère qui n'en finit pas de déverser ses angoisses sur un rabbin muet, un petit escroc à l'assurance qui rêve de devenir notable, un conteur-philosophe qui nous parle d'un avare à qui l'on a réussi à soutirer -par un bon tour- une aide pour les défavorisés. Sur un mode comique et théâtral, tous sont en situation d'urgence, comme pour en révéler une autre, celle de la survie d'un peuple et de sa culture.

Ils ont dit :

Le public savoure chaque instant de ce spectacle plein de verve, d'humour et d'humanité. (L'Alsace, 28 mars 1997)

Saisissante interprétation de Rafaël Goldwaser, les personnages de Sholem Aleicheim traversent le temps, effaçant presque les tragédies de ce siècle. (Yiddish Forward, 21 novembre 1997)