Time Travel Theatre – watch WANDERING STARS – a 1987 documentary on Yiddish Theatre

Yiddish theatre is a fascinating and under-celebrated cultural tradition. Dating from the late 19th century, Yiddish theatre spread around the world as a by-product of mass global migration from Europe, helping displaced groups continue to feel connections with the homelands they had fled.

Into the twentieth century, Yiddish theatre could be found in many of the world’s capital cities, providing traditionally-based fare for their audiences.

Yiddish theatre productions often revolved around the central themes of identity, immigration, poverty, integration and deep cultural ties to tradition. Yiddish theatre was embracing of other works, often performing Yiddish versions of plays from Shakespeare and other notable important playwrights. It also embraced a wide range of styles – musical comedy, revue, operetta, drama and melodrama, also embracing new and traditional playwrights’ works.

Yiddish theatre, its exponents and expressions, were devastated by the impact of World War Two and the Holocaust , after which its influence waned, although still practiced by a few loyal defenders of the tradition.

I recently came across this engaging 35 minute documentary which was produced in 1987 and tells the story of the movement in London through some of its exponents.

Interestingly, actress Anna Tzelniker who features in this film is the daughter of well-known actor Meier Tzelniker who had a long and successful career in the UK in Yiddish theatre as well as films and non-Yiddish theatre. He was the co-founder of the UK’s Jewish National Theatre with Fanny Waxman, a well-known Yiddish actress, in 1936.

I am very grateful to the Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives for posting this video on their YouTube channel so that it can be more widely appreciated.

Documentary Copyright: The London Museum of Jewish Life, 1987. Reproduced with permission of Jewish Museum London.


EXTRA: Here’s an extract from a US PBS series on Jewish Americans which talks about Yiddish theatre in America Thanks to YouTube poster Leora Hatchwell for posting this:

Read my Summer Theatre Preview in BARBICAN LIFE magazine

Those of you who live in, near or visit the Barbican Centre, you may be interested to know that the Barbican Estate’s engaging magazine produced by the Barbican Association, BARBICAN LIFE, features a number of interesting articles.

I have been contributing Theatre Previews of events in and around the Barbican Centre for several years now. The Barbican Centre hosts a wide-ranging collection of productions which are always interesting, with many visiting companies from around the world adding to an eclectic programme of home-grown and Barbican Associate- generated projects. A trip to the Barbican Centre is always an illuminating one.

Read my latest Theatre Preview here


Stream the Orange Tree’s THE FALSE SERVANT from 26 to 29 July

photo by The Other Richard

Great news for theatre fans not yet ready to return in person. The Orange Tree’s much-praised production of Martin Crimp’s translation of Pierre Marivaux’s THE FALSE SERVANT is available to watch online on demand any time from Tuesday 26 July at 7.30pm BST right through until to Friday 29 July at 11.59pm BST.

When a man thinks he can cynically take a rich woman’s money and then run off with an even more lucrative potential fiancée, he’d best not tell the fiancée by mistake. Le Chevalier, a woman disguised as the son of an aristocrat, embarks on a plan that will expose the dark heart of this male power-play.

This version by Martin Crimp was acclaimed at its 2004 National Theatre premiere by The Telegraph: “Thrills, chills, and belly laughs – this addictively adult comedy has got the lot.”

Paul Miller directs, following his earlier acclaimed production of Marivaux’s THE LOTTERY OF LOVE. Martin Crimp’s prolific international career began at the Orange Tree Theatre, including their recent hit revival of DEALING WITH CLAIR.

“Marivaux’s scepticism, irony and fascination with money and sex make him seem peculiarly modern” The Guardian

This streamed on demand performance will be available to watch from Tuesday 26 July at 7.30pm BST to Friday 29 July at 11.59pm BST and is available with captioning by Stagetext.

If you have any questions or problems, please read the frequently asked questions for advice.
Tickets are available at £15, £25, £32 – you are requested to pay what you can within these guidelines.

Book your streaming opportunity here


Over 50 National Theatre Talks now available on YouTube

The National Theatre has for many years presented Platform events featuring actors, directors, writers,musicians and others involved in the production of the NT’s works, but until recently these events were not available unless you attended in person.

Now the National are sharing over 50 of their recent events, usually averaging around 40 minutes long, on their YouTube channel.

Dip into a fascinating roster of some of the theatre’s most significant contributors, including Stephen Sondheim, Judi Dench, Neil Gaiman, Sam Mendes, Imelda Staunton, Olivia Coleman, Nathan Lane, Ruth Wilson, Alan Bennett, Tom Stoppard, Nicholas Hytner, Helen McCrory, Rae Smith, Simon Stephens, Adrian Lester, David Byrne, Michael Palin, Derek Jacobi, Simon Russell Beale, Peter Hall, Simon McBurney, Michael Frayn, Danny Boyle and many others.

And then of course if your interest has been piqued to see a particular production, then chances are you can watch it in the National’s online offering, where many of their shows can be purchased for home viewing.

You can find the link to the list by clicking the Theatre Recordings option on this page, where you’ll also find podcast and other resources to bring you closer to the work of the National – and all for free! Enjoy!


To my brilliant UNRESTRICTED THEATRE subscribers – a special note to you…

Hello Everyone,

I want to thank every one of you so much for the time you have spent enjoying the pages of this blog.

When I started it at the beginning of 2019, none of us had any conception that in 2020 a global pandemic would shut down our beloved theatres all around the world, as well as the events industry and all the many business who served them, throwing tens of thousands of talented, hard-working people out of work.

These amazing people did what they do best- they reinvented themselves in every way imaginable- from taking shows online, to retraining, to helping others carry on, and in hundreds of other important ways.

In my own small way, I was forced to adapt too. Honestly, my first thoughts were “Oh well, that’s the blog stuffed, then!”. But then I pretty soon started to think about things that I could do, ways that I could help us all remember, celebrate and keep a light on for the theatres we love, until they were able to return. In my own very small way I was inspired by the hope and creativity shown by our wonderful entertainment industries during their darkest hour.

And now, theatres are back, with all the benefits they bring to our wellbeing.

In terms of my own support, it has remained full-strength – but from afar. I am not back yet, as I sense a small but significant proportion of the pre-COVID audience aren’t. I hope that changes- and I hope to be back soon.

But in the last few months, my own circumstances have changed substantially, meaning that I have much less time to devote to running the blog than previously.

To those of you who have been kind enough to sign up for the regular Catch Ups, Thank You. I hope you have enjoyed them.

The key news is that I will be suspending the Fortnightly Catch Ups as of the Catch Up 120 on 21st July, for a few months. Please stay subscribed and you’ll be the first to hear of their return.

It’s been a difficult decision. But the blog itself carries on unchanged, so please carry on visiting when you have time, and rest assured there will still be things to see and do and enjoy!

When the Updates return I will let you know.

Until then, many thanks again for your support, warmth, feedback and praise. It’s been such a delight sharing our mutual love of theatre and all that goes with it! And I look forward to carrying on, hopefully with your interest and participation.

Do remember that I always enjoy hearing from you – you can find me at hello@unrestrictedtheatre.co.uk

Meanwhile, Keep Well – and Keep Theatre Strong in Your Hearts!

Gary