International Theatre Night Bruneck

International Theater Festival
by Daniel Galay

It happened to me recently to participate in an International Theater Festival in the city of Bruneck-Brunico, in northern Italy, near the dolomites mountains. Three plays in European minority languages were presented there. Due to the fact that I write for the stage in Tel Aviv, in Yiddish, and I am associated with the State Yiddish Theater in Bucharest, I was invited as a Yiddish playwright.
We are talking about a four-year project called “phōnē”, which is supported by the European Union with the aim of strengthening the voices of authors who write in European minority languages. In this case it was Sorbian, which is spoken in parts of Germany today. The play, written in Sorbian by Lubina Hajduk-Veljkovićowa, was presented by the German-Sorbian Folk Theater of Bautzen, which is located in East Germany.
The second play was by the playwright Iaco Rigo, who lives in northern Italy and writes in Ladin – the oldest Greek-Roman language in Europe (unrelated to the Jewish Ladino). They also performed a scene from my own play “King of Klezmers” which will have its premiere on the 30th of May at the State Yiddish Theater in 
Bucharest, Romania.

Due to the fact that German and Italian are spoken in Bruneck, it was very close to my heart. I often heard Italian in the neighborhood of my native city of Buenos Aires, where many Italian immigrants lived. And German is, of course, closely related to Yiddish, which I heard in my family and in the Jewish neighborhoods of my hometown. Nowadays, I hear that, unfortunately, a lot less. The inhabitants of Bruneck wondered how they understood my mother tongue and showed great interest in the words they did not understand.

I want to tell you about Iaco Rigos’ very interesting play “Caligula”, performed by a troupe related to the Bruneck-City Theater. The production is bilingual: German-Ladin, superbly directed by Viktoria Obermarzoner, who is also an actress, theater pedagogue and cultural activist. The play is about a mother, father, daughter and… a parrot called Caligula. In this family, no one listens to each other. Everyone is busy only with himself and no one pays any attention even to his own feelings.
Over time, however, the parrot takes over a larger place in the family constellation. He repeats words, takes over all conversations and demands greater attention to himself.The first evening in Buneck, I entered a typical restaurant and was surprised to learn that actors from different countries were sitting there. Sitting with them were Christina Lasta and Sabine Rentzler, who manage the local State Theater. Suddenly, the Yiddish-Romanian  director Andrei Munteanu greeted me loudly with a warm hello.

During the entire festival, the atmosphere was very friendly. It is worth mentioning a specific moment. Before Yako Rigo’s play was performed, Christine Lasta interviewed him on stage. She asked him about his recent
visit to Tel-Aviv. As part of the “phone” project, each playwright had to visit a colleague of another city, and so I was in Leipzig, and Rigo visited Tel Aviv. Answering the question, what impression did Tel-Aviv make on him, the Italian author praised our little “metropolis”. In these times, when public hostility towards Israel and Jews is spreading throughout Europe, Rigo’s words were a real balsam for me.
It is also important to emphasize that as part of the “Phone” project, an important place is given to the community theater, where the new plays are created precisely by amateurs – both young and older actors who deal with contemporary social problems. It is directed by a talented Israeli singer Liat Faris Tvaina, who now lives in Bucharest.

Although I haven’t skied all my life, I realized that now that I’m in the South Tyrol region is really a golden opportunity to try to go skiing myself. But at  my age instead to start sliding down from the huge, snow-covered, white mountains I got prefered  observing how others do it while I myself, thanks to the funicular, am up on the top of the mountain to enjoy the wonderful panorama.Bruneck Theater Festival was a profound experience for me,  which also brought honor and recognition to Yiddish. In a broader perspective, the Yiddishists iin Europe must rethink what they have to do in order the strengthen the Ashkenazic Identity and Yiddish Culture. This is a part of a broader fight to protect the values of freedom and democracy in the different state Title under the photo: George Remes and Viorika Predic in a scene from Daniel Galay’s play “King of Klezmers” that was shown at the Festival.