The Yiddish ‘Godot’ To Open Irish Festival

The Yiddish ‘Godot’ To Open Irish Festival

Sandee is the arts and culture editor at the Jewish Week.

Attendees at the opening performance at this summer’s annual Beckett Festival in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland will hear the Irish-born Nobel-prize winning author’s most famous play not in French, the language in which he wrote it, nor English, his native tongue into which he translated it, but in Yiddish.

“Vartn af Godot,” performed by New Yiddish Rep, will headline the international festival — now in its 3rd year — after a successful run at New York’s Castillo Theater. In an interview before the play opened in September 2013, Shane Baker who translated “Waiting for Godot” (and is a featured player) told Jewish Week theater critic Ted Merwin that the work of translating reinforced the play’s Jewish resonances for him.

In the Yiddish version, the melancholy Vladimir and Estragon, who wait endlessly for the arrival of a third man, are played as Holocaust survivors. Baker compared them to Shimon Dzigan and Yisroel Schumacher, the great Polish Jewish vaudeville duo.

The entire New York cast will be performing in Enniskillen, which is near the boarding school Beckett attended. Directed by Moshe Yassur, players include Avi Hoffman, Rafael Goldwaser, David Mandelbaum, Shane Baker and Nicholas Jenkins.

As reported on the New Yiddish Rep website, Beckett, in the first draft of ”En Attendant Godot,” gave the name of Levy to the character who eventually becomes Estragon. Baker is pleased to be playing Godot “in the right language.”

The Third annual Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival runs from July 31st to August 10th. “Vartn af Godot” will be performed on opening night and throughout the festival.

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