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Interlude The Standard-Bearer of "Soviet Jewish Statehood" The new approach ... should be based, first of all, upon the main principle that the theater stands at the center of cultural construction in the Jewish Autonomous Region, that it becomes the standard-bearer of culture of "Soviet Jewish statehood." - Moishe Goldblat, about the work of BirGOSET Having found at the beginning of 1937 a capable and receptive theatrical collective in Birobidzhan, and also having received enthusiastic reactions to his work, Goldblat undoubtedly felt that he was on the right path. His programmatic article "The Birobidzhan Yiddish State Theater" appeared in the summer of 1937 in the Birobidzhan almanac Forpost (published at that time in Moscow). This article provided an original theatrical manifesto that announced the new role of the Birobidzhan theater. At the very beginning of his article Goldblat declared that the creative and organizational contact with MosGOSET, which the Birobidzhan theater had maintained from the date of its founding, had turned out to be conceptually unsound. In spite of "the huge responsibility facing the theater of the Jewish Autonomous Region, which personifies the Soviet Jewish state structure ... its work bears the seal of fortuitousness... . At one time the theater , by its repertoire, turned into a theater of translations.... Clearly, all this took place because the theater did not have steady direction and the necessary coaching." Reviewing the history of the Yiddish theater briefly, Goldblat sharply criticized the previous approach and characterized the first ten years of MosGOSET thus: "Only satire, only negative things, only negation, and not one positive play, not one new, positive image." As though summing up, he declared confidently, "We believe that it will fall to the lot of the Birobidzhan theater, if its development goes in the right direction, to enter its own little page into the history of the Yiddish theater that began its professional existence 60 years ago under tl1e directorship of Goldfaden."J Goldblat clearly felt that he would become the creator of a new Yiddish theater. In his youth he had added to his modest surname, Chebotar, the pompous pseudonym Goldblat, and now, at last, the significant similarity J Goldblat, "Oer Birebidzhaner yidisher melukhe-teater," 127-28; Goldblat's emphasis. 114 IN SEARCH OF MILK AND HONEY between the sounds of the names Goldblat and Goldfaden found a real justification : Goldblat's theater would become Goldfaden's theater's legitimate successor, the continuer of its glorious traditions. That same summer of 1937, soon after he published his programmatic article, Goldblat finally legalized his pseudonym at the Moscow civil registry office2 The new approach that the director formulated, which was supposed to underlie the creative method of the Birobidzhan theater and guarantee its development "in the right direction," "should be based first of all upon the main principle that the theater stands at the center of cultural construction in the Jewish Autonomous Region, that it becomes the standard-bearer of culture of Soviet Jewish statehood.,,3 The new creative platform consisted of the following distinct points: 1. The theater's national form should have a positive character. It should not be expressed in such elements as encourage national aloofness, but rather in such as lead to international unity and evoke both Jewish national pride and sympathy to the Jewish people on the part of the surrounding peoples. 2. The theater of the Jewish state structure should become the theater of a new Jewish socialist type, characterized by national and social optimism, young socialist romanticism, and "socialist realism," with a healthy psychology, optimistic worldview, muscular appearance , and the commanding broad gesture of the collective farmer. 3. Soviet Jewish plays should occupy the main place in the repertoire, followed by the Jewish classics. The best products of general Soviet dramatic art should also be staged, and, from time to time, the European classics. 4. The plays should be constructed on the principle of synthetic theater , in which all forms of art are represented: drama, acting techniques , music, dance, and the graphic arts. 5. The acting techniques should strive for a synthesis between the rationalistic and the emotional methods, on the basis of Stanislavsky 's system, and at the same time not ignore the positive elements in the systems of Meyerhold and Vakhtangov and the creative experience of MosGOSET and other Soviet Yiddish theaters. 6. In music and dance the theater should aspire to use the creative works of the folk as broadly as possible, in the spirit of the tradition of the Goldfaden theater, which...



Subject Headings

  • Birobidzhan (Russia) -- Ethnic relations.
  • Theater, Yiddish -- Ukraine -- History.
  • Theater, Yiddish -- Russia (Federation) -- Birobidzhan -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jewish theater -- Russia (Federation) -- Birobidzhan -- History -- 20th century.
  • Birobidzhan State Yiddish Theater.
  • Jewish theater -- Soviet Union -- History.
  • Jewish actors -- Soviet Union.
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