“Einstein” is written by Gabriel Emanuel, directed by Howard
Rypp, performed by Victor Attar. It premiered in Canada over 20 years ago
at the Nephesh Theatre in Toronto, and since then, has been presented in
five different languages to critical acclaim. It is a fitting presentation
at a time when worldwide, tribute is being made to Albert Einstein.
The play is set on the eve of the great scientist's 70th birthday. After
receiving yet another award, this time from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem,
Einstein takes account of his life with the audience. He examines the
many conflicting aspects of his personality as a physicist, pacifist,
Jew and Zionist. The man of the century is revealed in all his greatness--his
humanity, morality and simplicity.
Author Gabriel Emanuel untangles Einstein's life and inner workings
with humor, honor, and honesty. The playscript strips down the fame and
complexities of a man who liked neither. Letting his thoughts meander
and his discussions vary from comical to deeply humanistic, Einstein moves
through anecdotes of family and career. Though no other character is ever
on stage, Einstein makes them visible to the audience through impersonations
and stories that shape the history of his life.
Of course, Einstein explains his famous theories, and the audience plays
a physical role in the explanations: they are called on stage and used
in seats to demonstrate the simplicity of what most assume are complicated
This production is in English, which was the original language of the
play. Victor Attar also performed the play's English premiere in Israel
at the Chan Theatre in Jerusalem last May.
Director Howard Rypp is originally from Canada, where he founded the
Nephesh Theatre in 1978,then operating as the first professional Jewish
theatre in Canada. He relocated the theatre to Israel in 1984 and today
Nephesh Theatre has 12 Hebrew plays and five English plays in its repertory.
GOLGOTHA (December 14-18, 20-22)
“Golgotha” is written by Shmuel Refael, adapted by Haim Idissis,
translated by Howard Rypp, directed by Geula Jeffet-Attar. It comes to
La MaMa E.T.C. after a premiere performance at the Tzavta Theatre in Tel-Aviv
and subsequent Israeli tour (2003-2005). It is a one man show, performed
in English by Victor Attar. He plays Albert Salvado, a Holocaust Survivor
re-living the atrocities of the concentration camps as he prepares for
his long awaited dream to come true: the honor to light the torch at the
annual Holocaust commemoration ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
However, Albert’s honor is compounded by the intense guilt and
pain surrounding his being chosen as the torch bearer, which makes Albert
question not only his right to the honor of lighting the torch but also
his identity as a Sephardic Jew. The estrangement many Ladino-speaking
Jews felt is captured in the play through the inner turmoil experienced
by Albert in the isolation of his own, dark apartment where he has nothing
but a photograph to remind him the family he left behind as the only survivor
of his household.
Author Shmuel Refael is head of the Department
of Literature of the Jewish People at Bar Ilan University, Israel. He
drew from the experience of his father, a Greek Holocaust survivor, molding
stories he heard as a child. The play was inspired by research he conducted
in 2001, under a commission from the foreign ministry of Spain to research
a book on the Holocaust experiences of Ladino-speaking Jews. Director
Geula Jeffet Attar and actor Victor Attar adapted it into an electrifying
multimedia experience of spoken word, music and video.
Golgotha is an old Ladino term for suffering and has traditionally been
applied as the name for the site where Jesus was crucified. Originally,
the play was done in Hebrew combined with broken Ladino phrases. Now,
in English translation by Howard Rypp, Ladino language is still dispersed
throughout the text.
The piece is adapted by Haim Idissis, a well-known Israeli screenwriter.
The play is scored with Greek-Judeo music, sounds that seem out of place
in the memory of many Israelis but that ring out the camaraderie and emotion
that was felt by Sephardic Jews in the concentration camps. Music is composed
by Yuval Mesner, an accomplished Israeli cellist. Video footage by Dana
Levy provides a dramatic dimension.
Actor Victor Attar, born in Baghdad, immigrated to Israel at 14. He was
a leading member of Tel Aviv's municipal theater, Hacamery, and later
of Jerusalem's repertory, The Kahn Theatre. He wrote and performed the
avant-garde play, "The Road," which began La MaMa Tel Aviv.
He achieved prominence in New York for his performance in the La MaMa
production of Fernando Arrabal's "The Architect and the Emperor of
Assyria." For the past few years, he and his closest collaborator,
director Geula Jeffet-Attar, have been devoting their efforts to New York
premieres of modern Israeli plays and new avant-garde theatrical works
adapting Jewish literature and legends, all at La MaMa.
From reviews of the debut production of "Golgotha" in Israel:
"A powerful monodrama arousing audience empathy due to Victor
Attar's sensitive portrayal" --Shai Ben-Ya'acov, Yediot Acharonot,
"Riveting and moving performance of excellent actor Victor Attar.
He recaptures the horrors of the past and brings them to the here and
now." -- Ben-Ami Feingold, Hatzofe Week, Israel
"A painful cry burst from the stage…the actor, Victor
Attar, gives a powerful monologue, elecrifying, sensitive, moving and
convincing performance in every part of his body." -- Marsel
Gershkovitz, Mekomon, Israel
From reviews of "Einstein" in Canada, South America and Israel:
"'Einstein' is a fascinating study of contradictions and paradoxes.
Laced with humor yet managing to convey some of the complexities and difficulties
with which he struggled." --Robert Crew, Toronto Star, Canada
"'Einstein' is a theatrical portrait which is genuinely touching
as his character is stripped bare in a way only a private encounter might
provide."--Brad Bradley, The News, Argentina
"The most interesting production in the current Habimah National
Theatre repertory is the Nephesh Theatre's 'Einstein'... 'Einstein' is
an excellent combination of a simple yet multidimensional monologue by
Gabriel Emanuel with the truthful and riveting Direction of Howard Rypp."
--Amir Orion, The City, Israel
"Dramaturg Gabriel Emanuel demystifies the seemingly unfathomable
personality of Albert 'Einstein'... We meet a man who is Every man who
confides with us all the complexities of his life." --Gustavo
Emilis Rosales, Teatro, Chile
"'Einstein' is both a Hymn to Peace and Requiem for war."--Janet
Wiseman, Guelph Daily Mercury, Canada
"'Einstein' speaks to us here and now. His worldly reflections
as scientist, Pacifist, Jew and Zionist still ring true today!"--Boaz
Evion, Yediot Achronot, Israel