Ms. Morgenstern is a well known international actress as well as being the theater’s director.
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Maia Morgenstern, director of the State Jewish Theater of Bucharest, one of Europe’s last remaining Yiddish theatres, has announced that there appears to be no option but to close the theater down for an indefinite period after its roof was severely damaged by the snowstorms that have been sweeping Eastern Europe in the last few days.
According to Ms. Morgenstern, a large area of the theater’s roof was blown off during the blizzard, when it reached its ferocious peak on the night of January 29th, causing large quantities of snow and ice to flood into the theater. Particularly badly damaged were the theater’s stage which is currently under water with the theater’s basement complies flooded, with hundreds of sets, some with historical value, more than likely having been completely destroyed.
The theater building is situated in the center of Bucharest, in the former Jewish quarter that was home to more than 300, 000 Jews before the Holocaust. The building was constructed during the 1930s, and in pre-war days was the traditional home of Yiddish theater in the city. The city even continued to operate during the early years of the Second World War, during which time it became a shelter for Jewish actors and playwrights from Eastern Europe who had been banned from other cultural institutions.
In recent years the State Jewish Theatre has begun to put on occasional performances in Yiddish, despite the fact that Bucharest’s entire Jewish community numbers just a little over three thousand, remaining more of a symbol of the once vibrant Yiddish culture in Eastern Europe.
Maia Morgenstern sprang to international prominence in her role as the the Virgin Mary in Mel Gibson’s 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ”.
Commenting on the disaster, Ms. Morgenstern underlined her concern regarding the theater’s future, as it is housed in what has to be regarded as not only a historical monument, but also a very important element in preserving the Yiddish culture in Europe”.
Already Romanian authorities have made a verbal commitment to provide assistance in helping to repair the building, with a Rumanian government official stating that while building that houses the State Jewish Theatre is not administered by the Culture ministry it does host a very important cultural institution, which goes back to when the first professional Yiddish theatre troupe in the world was founded in Romania in 1876.
State Jewish Theater of Bucharest / Wikipedia
Maia Morgenstern was born in Bucharest, graduating from the Film and Theatre Academy of Bucharest in 1985.
During the first fifteen years of her career, Ms. Morgenstern was member of a number of theater companies in Romania, particularly Bucharest, and has remained a regular member of the Jewish State Theatre since then, and has also taken on the auxillary role acted as the theater’s director for the last few years.
Ms. Morgenstern has appeared in numerous films, most of them in the Romanian language , however in The Passion of the Christ, she performed her role entirely in Aramaic, recalling that she simply memorized her lines phonetically to play the role.
Throughout the years, Maia has defended Gibson’s controversial movie, in particular against allegations of undercurrents of antisemitism, generally quoting from personal experience that authorities throughout history have persecuted individuals with revolutionary ideas.