Production of 'The Vilna Ghetto Theater' Thursday, Sept. 8

Center for German and European Studies commemorate ghetto's establishment 70 years ago

On Sept 6, 1941, the Germans established a ghetto in Vilna — then the occupied the Republic of Poland — where they forced about 40,000 Jews to work 10-hour shifts on starvation diets. In January 1942, a theater opened in the Vilna Ghetto. Though some were initially hesitant to embrace the undertaking, the theater performances were a huge success with the suffering ghetto inmates as for a few hours they offered the relief of laughter and tears.

In commemoration of the ghetto's establishment 70 years ago, The Center for German and European Studies at Brandeis will present “The Vilna Ghetto Theater: Yiddish Poetry Set to Music (1941-1943) on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. in Rapaporte Treasure Hall (Goldfarb Library). The show includes moving and witty excerpts from the four revue shows. Gifted composers and lyricists will be highlighted.

Performers include Sophie Michaux, a London native currently studying voice at the Longy School of Music; Eugenia Gerstein, a pianist from Moscow, Russia, who taught at the Music Teachers' College in Voronezh and chaired the Department of Music Theory and lecturer Susanne Klingenstein who was born in Germany. After studying at the University of Heidelberg and Brandeis University, Klingenstein pursued Yiddish literature and Post-graduate work in American literature at Harvard University. In 1991 she earned a Ph.D. in American Studies. She currently teaches philosophy and history of medical culture at the Harvard Medical School. She is a regular contributor tothe Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and is currently writing an introduction to Yiddish literature for Beck Verlag in Munich.


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