The first edition of Synergy#WTF Festival, slated for October 2017, will feature the acclaimed Romanian actress Maia Morgenstern. Apart from her theatre work, Morgenstern is also renowned for her film roles, including that of Mary, mother of Jesus, in the Mel Gibson-directed blockbuster The Passion of the Christ. Morgenstern will appear at Synergy#WTF as part of the Bucharest Jewish Theatre ensemble, in which she has performed for a number of years.

For 130 years, the Bucharest Jewish Theatre has nurtured the tradition of performing in Hebrew with a rich and diverse repertoire. They have performed all over Europe, from Berlin and Copenhagen to Avignon and London. For more on the theatre, visit

http://www.romaniajewishtours.com/bucharest-jewish-theatre/

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Who is Maia Morgenstern?
Maia Morgenstern is a Romanian film and stage actress who is described by Florin Mitu of AMOS News as “A symbol of Romanian theater and film.” In the English-speaking world, she is best known for the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. In Romania, Morgenstern has been nationally known since her 1992 role as Nela in Balanta, a film known in the United States as The Oak and which was set during the waning days of Communist Romania.

Born in Bucharest to a Jewish family, Morenstern graduated from the Film and Theatre Academy of Bucharest. She then played at Teatrul Tineretului (youth theatre) in Piatra Neamt and at the Teatrul Evreiesc de Stat (State Jewish Theater) in Bucharest. From 1990 to 1998, she was a member of the company of the National Theatre in Bucharest, and since 1998 of Teatrul Bulandra. Additionally, she continues to act at the State Jewish Theatre and elsewhere in Romania. Among her notable stage roles in recent years, Morgenstern was featured in a Romanian-language production of The Blue Angel (Ingerul Albastru in Romanian) at Bucharest’s Odeon Theater, in 2001-2002 she played (to great critical acclaim) Lola Lola, the character made famous by Marlene Dietrich. At the same time, she was also playing the role of Kathleen Hogan in a Romanian-language production of Israel Horovitz’s Park Your Car in Harvard Yard at the State Jewish Theater.

Morgenstern has appeared in numerous films, primarily in Hungarian and Romanian-language roles. In The Passion of the Christ, she performs a role in Aramaic, but like the other actors in the cast of that film, she memorized her lines phonetically.

The Jewish Theatre

The Jewish Theatre in Romania has a tradition dating back almost 130 years.
Documents testify to the fact that in 1876 in Iasi , Romania , in the famous “ Green Tree” garden , the artist and writer Avram Goldfaden , the father of the modern Jewish Theatre , laid the foundation of the first professional Jewish Theatre in the world , by giving some performances with his own company. A few months later , Goldfaden moved with his theatre company to Bucharest .

Since then The Jewish Theatre has held a particular place in Romanian Theatre . The early days were difficult with precarious finances hindering the building of a permanent company and theatre base. But this obstacles did not stop the artistic development of the work and the company could count on the support of fellow artistes.

The great director and teacher Jacob Sternberg raised the artistic profile of the company in the early part of 20th century . In 1930 he created a studio theatre where modern trends in European theatre could be developed.

The fascist dictatorship years of World War II brought hard times . Jewish artists were not allowed to perform in their own language nor to appear in public . A group of them started The “ Barasheum “ Theatre in Bucharest where the performances were given in Romanian .

In 1948 The Bucharest State Jewish Theatre was created.

Since then The Jewish Theatre has held a particular place in Romanian Theatre . The early days were difficult with precarious finances hindering the building of a permanent company and theatre base. But this obstacles did not stop the artistic development of the work and the company could count on the support of fellow artistes.

The great director and teacher Jacob Sternberg raised the artistic profile of the company in the early part of 20th century . In 1930 he created a studio theatre where modern trends in European theatre could be developed.

The fascist dictatorship years of World War II brought hard times . Jewish artists were not allowed to perform in their own language nor to appear in public . A group of them started The “ Barasheum “ Theatre in Bucharest where the performances were given in Romanian .

In 1948 The Bucharest State Jewish Theatre was created.

This power of expression and permanent communication with the audience constitutes the expression and permanent communication with the audience constitutesthe main concern of the “total” theatre and is a main characteristic of the stage art of the Jewish Theatre in Bucharest .

Since 1948 the theatre has premiered more than 200 new works , offering its audience numerous Yiddish classics including Shalom Aleichem, I.L.Peretz , Mandele Moher Sforim and works by important Jewish playwrights such as S. Ansky, Jacob Gordin .

Classics from the world stage by Ibsen , Moliere , Balzac, Brecht, Lessing , Ibsen , Feuchtwanger, Durrenmatt and Max Frisch have been performed along with works by Romanian dramatists.

The Jewish Theatre of Bucharest has toured successfully to the USA, Canada , Israel, germany, Austria, Russia, Switzerland and France as well as prformed in numerous internationsl festivals . In 1991 , for instance , the Theatre performed in Vienna and participated to the International Festival in Krems , Austria ; in 1992 the company toured to Israel , Germany and Russia AND IN 1992 scored a great success by participating in the International Festival in Nitra , Slovakia .

In 1994 The Bucharest Jewish Theatre accomplished one of the longest tours in its entire history . For almost 60 days the actors performed successfully on 25 stages in various parts of Germany and Switzerland. Not to forget another acclaimed tour in Vienna in 1999.

A very important aspect of the activitiy of the Bucharest Jewish Theatre consists in initiating and organizing international workshops and festivals of great proportions . In 1991 and in 1996 our Jewish Theatre organized and participated in the first two editions of the International Festival of Yiddish Theatre in Bucharest.

The Bucharest Jewish Theatre presented in 2000 in Romania and abroad An die Musik , a performance by Pip Simmons , music by Chris Jordan after an original idea of Rudy Engelander being accomplished as a co-production with artistic institutions in various countries.

The Bucharest Jewish Theatre toured with this performance during 2000 to Nancy , Avignon, Salzburg, Zurich , London, Berlin, Copengahen , Rotterdam .

In its uninterrupted almost 135 years history , the last more than six decades as a State institution , The Jewish Theatre of Bucharest has developed a distinct profile and occupies a representative , unique position in Yiddish language contemporary art world.

Text offered by courtesy of Mr. Harry Eliad, the Director of the Bucharest Jewish Theatre.