Buch von Laeh Napolin und Isaac Bashevis Singer
Nach der Kurzgeschichte "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy" von Isaac Bashevis Singer
Optional mit Musik von Jill Sobule
- Reb ALTER Vishkower
- Reb NATA
- Reb TODRUS
- ZELDA LEAH
Die junge Yentl studiert entgegen aller Traditionen heimlich mit ihrem Vater, einem Rabbi, den Talmud. Als er stirbt, scheint das Studium jedoch ein Ende zu nehmen, denn um zu überleben, müsste Yentl heiraten und das Leben einer Hausfrau und Mutter führen. Kurzentschlossen verkleidet sie sich als Mann, nimmt den Namen Anshel an und sucht eine Yeshiva, die sie aufnimmt und an der sie weiterhin studieren kann. Sie macht sich unter den jungen Männern mit ihren Ansichten in politischen und theologischen Diskussionen schnell einen Namen. In Avigdor findet sie einen treuen Freund und es kommt, wie es kommen muss: Sie verliebt sich in ihn. Doch Avigdor kann nur an Hadass denken, die er aufgrund ihrer Eltern nicht heiraten darf. In seiner Verzweiflung heckt er einen Plan aus: Wenn er Hadass schon nicht kriegen kann, soll zumindest sein bester Freund Anshel sie heiraten. Hadass ihrerseits ist Anshel sehr zugetan. Tatsächlich wirbt er schließlich um ihre Hand und ist plötzlich gefangen zwischen der Frau Yentl und dem Mann Anshel, zwischen der Liebe zu Avigdor und der Liebe zu Hadass. Als Avigdor schließlich rausfindet, dass sich hinter Anshel eine Frau verbirgt, muss sich Yentl endgültig der Frage stellen, wie sie ihr Leben von nun an führen will.
»Yentl« ist ursprünglich eine Kurzgeschichte aus der Feder Isaac Bashevis Singers. Gemeinsam mit Leah Napolin adaptierte er die Geschichte zu einem Broadway-Schauspiel, das in den 80er Jahren erfolgreich von und mit Barbra Streisand verfilmt wurde. 30 Jahren später liegt nun eine eigens von Napolin überarbeitete Fassung vor mit optionalen Song von Singer-Songwriterin Jill Sobule. Sie vereint dabei jüdische Klänge mit rockigen Einflüssen und spiegelt so den bis heute aktuellen Konflikt zwischen Tradition und Hinterfragung von Rollenbildern musikalisch wieder.
"...Humor, including in the form of tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendoes and irreverent musical numbers—such as “Oh, Sh*t,” which Yentl sings as she realizes just how deep a hole she’s dug herself—add necessary levity to what could be a too-heavy exploration of restrictive religious tradition and the historical marginalization of women. Robbie Hayes’s two-story set is gorgeously detailed, and the cast does a lot with a couple of wooden benches and tables. Serotsky also does a lot with her cast—with the exception of Blass, each actor embodies several different role, and there are some very fine performances. Darnall nails the charm and intelligence that make Avigdor so magnetic to the young Anshel. Tisdale’s Hadass has the right mix of naiveté and stubbornness, though her motives are harder to parse: She must suspect something about Anshel doesn’t quite add up, though she seems nothing if not a devoted wife throughout. (In that regard, she serves as an illustration of what Yentl’s fate could have been, had she not taken extreme measures to remain in control of it herself.)"
"New music, as well as smartly-visioned staging by Shirley Serotsky, takes the themes of the original and develops them for the 21st century, making Theater J’s Yentl an intelligent and important new work, rather than an easy repeat of previous work.
DC Metro Theater Arts:
"...In Theater J’s beautiful, eloquent, and thrilling new production of Yentl, such profound new life has been breathed into Isaac Bashevis Singer’s beloved novella that at its heart this retelling is more transformative than any before. By that I mean: Inside this thoroughly charming show is an interpretation so disarming that it’s not only (in Artistic Director Ari Roth’s words) “a Yentl for our time“; it’s ultimately a Yentl for the future of who we are."
"Somehow it seems absolutely right that the woman who wrote and sang the MTV hit “I Kissed a Girl” and “Supermodel” is penning the slightly subversive, excellently wry and humorous music and lyrics for “Yentl.” No, not the “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” “Yentl” that Barbra Streisand boldly made in homage to herself; the upcoming production of “Yentl” being staged in Washington, D.C.’s Goldman Theater, in the Jewish Community Center, by Theater J, hews far more closely to the original story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. And Jill Sobule, known for her barrier-breaking and socially conscious songs that question the status quo and deal unequivocally with issues as diverse as the death penalty, anorexia, reproduction, the French Resistance and the Christian right, appears to be an excellent choice.
“Yentl,” of course, is based on the short story “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy,” about a young woman in 19th-century Eastern Europe who would rather study Talmud than follow the unbending path she is expected to take: marriage, homemaking, mothering a brood of children. This marks 40 years since the play — then without music — ran on Broadway. Adapted by then fledgling playwright Leah Napolin with the blessing and cooperation of Singer, the work is often seen as a feminist proof text, positing that women, too, have the brains and drive to tackle the male-driven world of talmudic study.The stage play, as both Napolin and Sobule pointed out, differs tremendously from the Streisand-conceived movie musical. Streisand had even changed Singer’s ending by sending Yentl off to America, and Singer told The New York Times that he was unhappy with what she did to his story. At Theater J, rather than a dolled- and tarted-up vision of a cross-dressing shtetl woman, this “Yentl” features an updated script by Napolin, who in the early 1970s saw parallels in Singer’s short story that coincided with the burgeoning second wave of feminism. It’s unfortunate, both Napolin and Sobule said, that most people familiar with the story, know it only from the Streisand film.
“I still remember going to see the movie,” Sobule said in July from her home base in Los Angeles. “I remember watching the movie and… I remember loving it, but then I remember watching it again in later years, and I’m not sure it ages so well. Especially after you read the story.” Sobule says she simply couldn’t get over the fact that Streisand still looked the same after she cropped her hair and transformed herself from a orphaned teenage girl into a young yeshiva bokher: “When she turns into the boy, she looks like Barbra with a hat on,” Sobule said, giggling. “She still has gorgeous Beverly Hills nails and skin. They didn’t have that in the shtetl.”
This updated vision of “Yentl” won’t be called a musical, because of complications with the original contracts when Streisand and her production company acquired rights to the play. Instead, it is being called “a play with music.” Which, for Sobule, makes far more sense anyway. None of the central characters, she explained, bursts into song onstage. Instead, the townspeople serve as what Napolin lovingly calls “a Greek Yiddish chorus.”
For the Denver-raised singer/songwriter, best known for her piquant lyrics and narrative-based songs that tweak political and social mores, writing for the theater has been a joy. The limitations of the commission worked in her favor at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, where an earlier version was staged in 2013. “They didn’t have a budget for a big band or a traditional musical theater orchestra. And we couldn’t call it a musical, because of contractual things with Barbra Streisand, so… since we didn’t have the budget, I wrote for street musicians,” she said, adding that she imagined the music being played by a small traveling street band, which would not have been unusual in the late 19th- and early 20th-century shtetls of Europe.
“It’s not musical theater-y,” she claimed. “I don’t come from a musical theater background. It is more of a pop/folk/rock thing.”
On writing the “Yentl” lyrics, she admitted cribbing from the Bible, as well as, of course, Singer’s original short story. “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Sobule said. “A couple of the songs I completely stole from the Book of Samuel, Song of Songs. I like to write story songs about historical things, so this [project] was so good for me. I just sat and read books; it was actually like reliving Sunday school.” One song, “David and Jonathan,” is taken from the biblical tale, and Sobule plays with the unmistakable attraction that Avigdor has for Yentl, who is disguised as Anshel. Sobule’s gloss on the Jonathan and David story is that there was perhaps a sexual attraction to their close friendship, and she plays freely with that idea in her lyrics, perhaps even suggesting a transgender quality.
Sobule hopes that this remounting of “Yentl” will introduce a new generation to Singer’s beloved and still relevant tale. In the Florida production, Napolin the playwright reported that particularly younger audiences of teens identified with Yentl as an outsider seeking to find her own voice within a very proscribed world.
“I identify with Yentl completely,” Sobule said. “I was such a tomboy and still am a tomboy. I wanted the guy things, whether it was to be like James Bond or Hendrix or whatever; they’re so much cooler, way more fun. No, I don’t want to stay home and make drapes.”
- UA: 23.10.1975, Eugene O'Neill Theatre, Broadway
- 28.10.2014, Theater J, Washington, USA