This project was intended to commemorate the centenary of the death of Jacob Gordin, the greatest playwright of the Yiddish Stage. The plan, devised by Ivo Mosley and Simon Usher and conceived in cooperation with Wilton’s Music Hall and Frances Mayhew (its director), was to stage a production of Gordin’s version of the Faust story: ‘God, Man and Devil’.
With the intention of provoking discussion and awareness of Yiddish Theatre’s importance in the Western tradition, it was to be staged on alternate nights with Goethe’s Faust. The two plays make a fascinating comparison. Both are on the same theme: the man who sells his soul to the Devil. Goethe lets his Faust off the hook – thereby (in the opinion of Spengler) giving Western man carte blanche to do what he wants. In contrast, Gordin’s Faust realizes what he has become, and commits suicide.
The two plays present opposing visions for the future of humanity. Both use music as integral to the drama.
A presentation evening at Wilton’s Music Hall was a tremendous success.The eighty members of the invited audience were electrified by the evening. Unfortunately, the project was called off by Wilton’s, who were funding it, in reaction to the financial crash.
We believe our project is particularly appropriate today, when the world is trying to find its way to a prosperous, conscientious and just future. The voices of Gordin and other Yiddish writers constitute the most deeply considered artistic and intellectual challenge to the current ethos of globalised consumerism and demoralisation.